Monday, 3 April 2017

Beyond Borders

"No city is legitimate if it takes away the dignity of those who live there" 1.

A palimpsest, by definition entails the erasure of what was there before, of what was in the past and claiming the foundation (either a parchment or monumental brass plaque) for re-use. 

But as the American writer William Cuthbert Faulkner said "The past isn't dead and buried. It isn't even past". Right now it seems we are living with the global consequences of past decisions and are reaping the rewards in abundance.

In Jerusalem, we can go back centuries, millennia even, as each successive civilization puts down its roots in the land, laying the foundations for claim and counterclaim for generations to come. As soon as we untangle one part there is another layer of tangle underneath.

Fast forward to 2017 and it's not just in Jerusalem that we see the past catching up with us. From Iraq to Crimea, from Hong Kong, Africa, to the Americas. Across the globe "policy makers seem to be confused and at a loss...politicians and military leaders sound increasingly belligerent and defense doctrines more dangerous" 2.

A few years ago, on a gable end wall in west Jerusalem I saw a work of graffiti art that said "just forgive". It’s easy to say but much more difficult to do. However, within a conflict, it can begin to happen when at least one side realises that it can, and must, let go of exclusive claims to persecution and discrimination; having the courage to recognise that others have suffered too.

Just recently I saw that the gable end wall has gone and with it the graffiti art. Let us help its message survive.

About the new work...

This is what I am hinting at in new works such as Terminus or Beyond Borders. Breaking out of an existing narrow mind-set is difficult, especially if we feel an injustice has been done against us. There are many who feel that they are being discriminated against; some with good reason. We should seek that everyone is treated not the same but with equality (there is a difference).

However, seen from a long-standing position of perceived superiority and privilege-by-right, being given equal treatment will of course seem like being discriminated against. When the pie starts to shrink, those holding such views will do everything possible to hang on to their (unequal) share, or even increase it. And the only way they can do that is to make sure everyone else gets less.

The new etching [L f.Gk nostos - return home] returns also to my opening sentiment. No city or society, no government, country or nation is legitimate if it takes away the dignity of those who live there.

As the character Soloman in James Swallow's Nomad said, "In a lawful, moral society, it is the responsibility of the rich man to see that the poor man does not starve. It is the responsibility of the strong man to see that the weak man is not preyed upon."

1. Garbiel Vallecillo Marques, Honduran film maker

2. Mikhail Gorbachev, Former Premier of the Soviet Union