Interview with Helena, designer of this website:
Why do you want me to create a website?
Well, so far all of the work that is coming out in my name has come from the encouragement of Sami Moukaddem. He wanted to make a documentary on me, my life, my motivations. I kept on refusing until I saw his film “How we can solve the Palestinian Israeli Problem” http://www.palestine-israel-problem.com After that I said OK, fine, what would you like to do? His main suggestion was to do what I have been doing quietly, but now in a public way. To summarise, I wanted to complement human rights activism, and approach many of the topics that we in the Arab world struggle with, with humour.
Why humour and music in particular?
Well, “How we can solve the Palestinian Israeli problem” is, to me at least, a linear and logical film. It’s more of a left brain approach. I wanted to do something complimentary, I wanted to open it up a bit, as a way of disarming uptight beliefs that some people might have. Whether these beliefs are direct result of years of subtle messages from mainstream media or one’s own culture. To me a logical linear discourse is a direct way of attempting to communicate, there are many great voices attempting this. I wanted to support these efforts, perhaps say the same things, in a different way. To give you an example, a few hundred years ago the clown was the only one in the King’s court who could openly criticise the King without getting his head chopped off.
So you’re basically employing the joker archetype?
Well, I don’t like to restrict myself or what I do to any one definition. Like many before me, I’m simply trying to find ways of connecting the best parts of ourselves within ourselves, and to one another. For me it goes beyond one approach, it’s about exploring indirect methods of reaching one another. Learning about symbolism, mythologies of different cultures, and other means besides the literal. But sometimes I’ll just name things as they are too, and be very direct.
Some might be confused by your approach, or even insulted that you are approaching some very serious issues from a light place.
First of all I can’t reach everybody and I can’t comfort every body. If somebody does not give what I’m trying to do much of their time, then yes they can come up with all sorts of conclusions from how I dress for example, but if they watch more than one video, or even read the lyrics without watching the video, then I think it would be obvious that the work is quite layered. But yes, the first image might be confusing, but this is part of the intention. It’s the first step in challenging stereotyping.
As to belittling serious issues, well, my main approach grew organically from a pervious way of being, of trying too hard to reach others through logical means. There are many who can do it beautifully. However, ultimately, what I’m trying to address is not specific to the Arab world or Western military interventions, but the human condition itself. I’m struggling with many questions, such as how do we transcend our animal hierarchical impulses, how do we mobilise ourselves more altruistically, and in my struggle I am kneeling, I am saying this is bigger than me. We’re all in this together.
Palestine is a recurring issue in your work…Why?
I’ve said it before, that I consider myself to be an Arab, and I don’t identify myself with any particular Arab state, however, I do believe that the Palestinian issue is the responsibility of all Arab citizens who are interested in self determination. There is no other issue in the Arab world where there is this level of direct intention to divide Arabs. By looking a bit more deeply into the interferences, you see to what levels it affects us, from economy to art, to self esteem and so many other aspects of civil society.
The issue of Palestine is also central to American and European Citizens. I believe the majority of American and European citizens would be shocked to know to what extent their taxes goes towards funding acts which they would not want committed in their name. Same goes for Jews in general, whether in the US, Europe, and even in Israel.
My personal approach aims at unifying, believing in equality beyond nationalities, race, and religions, or any form of tribalism.