Zaytoun is a piece by three Edinburgh-based artists, dedicated to over 60 years of Palestinian struggle to carve out an existence under the yoke of physical and cultural oppression.
This works focuses on the current 50 days war in occupied Palestine. Over this conflict tens of thousands of buildings have been destroyed, including hospitals, schools and United Nations (UN) shelters. Although this is a ceasefire it does not mean that the populace are safe from danger. A new wave of occupation have just been started which, according to The Guardian, is the biggest of its kind over the past few decades.
Olive trees are internationally recognised as a symbol of peace. In Palestine they are also symbol of unity and the relationship people have with their lands. Not only have the Palestinians been oppressed and forced to give up their lands but also vast numbers of these trees have been bulldozed or moved to occupied lands and inside Israel. The trees are part of Palestinian families as some of these are over a century old and it takes a long time for the trees to reach fruiting maturity.
The stories included within this work are collected from individuals living inside Gaza strip, Jerusalem and the West Bank, reporting the current crisis. Names of people who lost their lives, during and since the invasion are downloaded periodically from AlKhabar website which gets the list from Gaza Ministry of Health.
By touching the expressive characters or rough bark of the olive tree you trigger the printing of stories and casualty names, which appear like roots at the base of the trunk. The piece suggests that the unity of the Palestinian people transcends artificial partitions, walls and checkpoints inside Palestine and across occupied Palestine. Many contemporary accounts and observations are transmitted via social media – often an inherently fleeting medium. Through printing we are aiming to make these horrors and fears tangible and rather more permanent.
We would like to thank the University of Edinburgh Producing Data Conference organisers for giving us the opportunity to show this work, which is part of a larger exhibition to be showed at Peace and Justice conference here in Edinburgh.
Artists: Chris Barker, Mina Braun and Hadi Mehrpouya with thanks to Alan Ramsay