(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Israel's controversial security barrier will go "transparent" Wednesday evening as part of this week's Jerusalem Film Festival.
Starting at 8 p.m., a 60-meter stretch of both sides of the barrier will become a giant screen featuring 640 photographs from different conflict zones around the world. "The photographs will be exactly the same on both sides, and that will create the sense of being able to see through the wall, [as though] the wall isn't there for a few hours," says Vanini Belarmino, the project manager of Challenging Walls, an organization dedicated to encouraging dialogue between peoples in conflict.
Challenging Walls' show in Israel, which will be projected onto the barrier in the east Jerusalem district of Abu Dis, has been in development for some time and was conceived by Israeli photographer Ruth Zuntz, now a resident of Berlin, as well as fellow Berlin photographer Michael Reitz and Israeli architect Anat Moshe.
The nighttime display is being sponsored by a number of organizations, among them the European Commission, Northern Ireland's University of Ulster, Germany's Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations and Jerusalem's Al Quds University and Van Leer Institute.
All the photographs were taken between April and June of this year and were shot in eight conflict areas by pairs of photographers, one from each side of the conflict.
"We wanted to get the perspective of photographers who actually experience life in these conflict areas," Belarmino says. "We also wanted photographs of people in real, everyday situations. We weren't looking just for nice images."
The photos' "everyday" element, Belarmino says, is an essential part of the final product. "We want to show that people in conflict areas just want to get on with their lives, even if there are difficult things to deal with, like security walls."
Whatever temporary "transparency" the exhibit creates, organizers hope Challenging Walls will inspire hope for a time when the security barrier is dismantled.
"I lived in Israel at the end of the Eighties," Reitz says, "so I missed the ... Berlin Wall coming down. But I live in east Berlin today, and you have Germans and Turks, Arabs and Jews all living together and just getting on with their lives. The wall is a like a mask - a physical and mental wall - which we want to remove so that real dialogue can happen."
The Van Leer Institute will host a conference on "Walls, Separation and Cultural Representation" earlier Wednesday, and will provide transportation to the display at 9 p.m.
Organized transportation will also be provided from Jerusalem's David Citadel Hotel at 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. The site will not be accessible to independent parties.