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Chad Elias. Department of History of Art. Oxford Academic.

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Against the Wall

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“Against the Wall: the art of resistance in Palestine” book launch

Advance article alerts. Many Palestinian artists also draw on well-known Palestinian symbols, such as the Dome of the Rock, which is presented as being beyond reach - on the other side of the wall. Rather than using the wall as a symbol to speak about human dignity and cultural bridges, many Palestinian graffiti artists tend to draw attention to the daily struggles of Palestinians living in its shadow.

For them the ugliness and enormity of the wall speaks for itself. Simply depicting Palestinians tending their land and drinking tea in the face of the wall speaks to the reality of oppression and their sense of imprisonment. International graffiti artists, on the other hand, use the wall to show solidarity, to raise awareness about human suffering and to bridge cultures.

Despite their best intentions, the images have been shredded and defaced. For others, the wall becomes a symbol to speak about universal human rights. On a watchtower dominating the Aida refugee camp, a New York street artist depicted a woman with a flowing skirt full of pockets Fig.


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Escalators, balloons and ladders also speak of artists' dreams of overcoming the wall Fig. Images by international artists at times clash with the locals' perceptions. The living room window that opens onto a peaceful green scenery drawn by well-known British artist Banksy has become "de-beautified" and gives way to a brick wall. Indeed, when Banksy painted large murals onto the Bethlehem walls, a Palestinian onlooker told him that he made the wall look beautiful.

Banksy thanked him only to be told, "We don't want it to be beautiful. We hate this wall.

Go home. They can offer a "special price" to international tourists who come to Bethlehem not only for a pilgrimage to the Church of the Nativity, but also to get a tour of Banksy's images they have read about in the Guardian and the New York Times. Indeed, the wall's commercial potential has not been lost on people living in its shadow.

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On the Israeli side, along Route from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, the Jerusalem municipality has decorated the walls that shield against the Palestinians with green meadows and blue skies framed by murals of viaducts. Larry Abramson, an Israeli artist critical of the barrier, appropriated the green and blue landscape but added a vertical black zip across it to question the Zionist dream of virgin open land. Around the Palestinian cities of Tulkarm and Qalqilya, the walls themselves have also largely become invisible to Israelis driving along the adjacent Highway 6. Heaps of soil, planted trees, bushes and plants cover the mass of concrete behind.

The walls around the Jewish enclave of Gilo were erected in against sniper attacks from Beit Jala. Gilo residents created its images at the request of the Jerusalem municipality.

Against the Wall, The Art of Resistance in Palestine by William Parry | | Booktopia

Some of the concrete slabs were painted over with replications of the shielded-off landscape beyond Fig. Lovers on swings gazed dreamingly into the sunset Fig. Maps of Jewish sites from the city of Tel Aviv to the Knesset evoked a Jewish topography and land in which the threatening "Other" beyond has become invisible and has disappeared altogether Fig. Israeli artists also use the wall as a symbol to raise awareness about the plight of Palestinians. As many Israelis have never seen the barrier, some artists take it to be their mission to show how it affects people, lands and cultures on either side.

Others also use the wall to speak to issues unrelated to the consequences of the barrier.


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The wall was meant to symbolize women breaking boundaries in everyday life in a male-dominated world. The West Bank barrier tells numerous stories.