A Diary of Disorientation - 09.06.03
Tuesday, October 1, 02
I am already on my way to the momentous encounter with all the artists, who are gathering for the first time in Berlin. After meeting with the artists individually back in their home countries, I was especially looking forward to the arrival of Roza El-Hassan from her current home in Budapest. Even though our paths had not crossed since we last saw each other at the 1998 Biennale de Sao Paulo, we had maintained regular contact. Once I actually invited her for a visit and possible show in Jerusalem. She declined because from time to time she visits relatives and friends in Syria and a trip to Jerusalem might jeopardize that. I was sad when I learnt that Roza would be unable to make it to our meeting in Berlin. That week, a fire had broken out in her kitchen while she was out of the apartment. She and her little daughter had to find shelter somewhere else as their home was largely destroyed. Preoccupied with fixing up her place, Roza had all she could deal with for the moment. After much deliberation Roza decided to present an image of her Blood Donation performance in Zurich, where she and several other people give blood to the Red Cross. In her hand she carried a rolled up image of Arafat donating blood for the victims of the 9/11 attack. She held the image of Arafat rolled up in her hand in awareness of the delicate line between political activism and performance. In a previous performance in Budapest the image of Arafat giving blood had been openly displayed on the bed where she herself gave blood. The image was hijacked and misinterpreted by right wing extremists as the need for more blood to eliminate the unwanted groups in society. Coming from a mixed background (Syrian-Hungarian) Roza was conscious of the thorny politics that characterized the relations between Europe and the Middle East; the differences in culture, mentalities and religion. Her home and family represented common ground where differences were negotiated and dissimilarities patched up, and which provided her with rich material to draw from in her work. In Stretched Glass Roza suspends a fragile glass cup with two steel cables that pull at both sides of the glass. Steel and glass, two elements at odds are unified in one piece that puts them both to the test.
director of Al Ma Mal Foundation, Jerusalem-Ramallah, curator of DisOrientation, 2003 Berlin.