Bethlehem Bandolero, 2005, video.
Larissa Sansour

After years in exile, the Palestinian artist returns to her native town, Bethlehem, only to find that the town has been divided by the Israeli segregation wall. Unable to see friends and family, Sansour sets out to confront the wall in an absurd and bizarre duel exposing the political madness of the region. Bethlehem Bandolero is a kitsch video featuring Larissa Sansour herself as a Mexican gunslinger arriving in Bethlehem for a duel with the Israeli Segregation Wall. Wearing a big, red sombrero and a scarf, she walks the streets of Bethlehem and greets the people before taking off for her final showdown. The editing is inspired by television sitcom effects from the seventies. The humor of the piece is by the underlying music (courtesy Brooklyn Museum).

Part of the How Green Was My Valley exhibition.

A Metro in Gaza, 2011
Mohamed Abusal

A Metro in Gaza explores the dreamlike possibility of an underground metro station in Gaza. The project imagines a system powered by generators, with high standards of cleanliness, order, punctuality, and passenger safety. These features are meant to endure the raids, civic poverty, and intensified blockade in Gaza. By eliciting opinions—ranging from naive and comical to pessimistic—from Gaza City’s citizens, Abusal documents what it might mean to have a local metro system. A Metro in Gaza provides a daring, critical, and scathing commentary on what is deemed permissible in technology and society in Gaza today.

Part of the How Green Was My Valley exhibition at WhiteBox.

How Green Was My Valley

How Green Was My Valley highlights the work of a generation of artists who have been led by the subject of Palestine to develop new aesthetic visions and practices in the face of a decades long occupation. Palestinian art, whether produced in the occupied territories or in diaspora, has become increasingly experimental, engaging international shifts that have merged contemporary art practices with eco-activism, urbanism, documentary filmmaking, and archival methods. How Green Was My Valley will spotlight artists who are currently contributing to these expanding theoretical frameworks while giving equal attention to those who evocatively utilize form to reflect what national poet Mahmoud Darwish referred to as an “incurable malady,” the persistence of Palestinian hope.

Because art matters

If you’ve ever been to a museum and thought, "my four year old could do that," you need to read this.

Three questions not to ask about art – and four to ask instead

"Art is similar in that you need context to understand it, but it also makes you do much more interpretive work. It doesn’t mean that you just make up your own meaning and everyone is right, regardless of how wacky their interpretation. It means that you have to think of what was happening in the world in which the work came about, and to the artist’s life, to find the clues."

A combo exposé and public service announcement from John Oliver, this one hits close to home. Even for clients who believe in their message, it may seem okay to do this. And for the news media, it may feel a necessary step for survival. Subscription models though are giving the old ad-based guard a run for its money, and rightly so. As a guy who works in marketing and advertising, I’d rather craft efforts that the right audience welcomes, rather than force messages disruptively (or in this case, surreptitiously) down audiences’ throats.

A call to end our complicit role in a horrifying injustice

To my Palestinians friends, my deepest apologies for the horrifying loss of those in Gaza. I’m ashamed of my country, complicit in it’s financial, military and foreign policy support of Israel. This isn’t a religious issue, it’s a humanitarian crisis that history will judge us harshly for, unless action is taken now.

For my American friends, you should know that my visit to Israel/Palestine last year changed me. My eyes were opened to the dehumanizing oppression taking place at the hands of Israel’s government/political leaders, and the United States’ complicit role in the little-understood reality taking place there.

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The feeling of profound awe experienced when viewing a piece of art.

In the first act of my life, those years between birth and twenty-five, I was trying to find my way. I had some passion and ambition, but mostly I was simply trying to figure out which way was up.

In my second act, from about twenty-six to fifty, I found a path, meandering as it was, and grew passionate about a few things like creativity and technology, and was fortunate enough to be able to pursue them. I married my best friend, started a family, and began building a life. I also spent much of that second act of life pushing, pursuing, climbing, striving, developing, acquiring… ambition and acquisition, faith and dogma often defined my sense of success, my significance and values, my sense of what was real and true. I scrimped and saved and borrowed and stretched and bought my first home, then later a larger one. With the things I was acquiring and the career I felt I was developing and the faith I was pursuing—the markers of success as defined by the American Dream—all seemed real and good.

Until they weren’t.

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A few years ago, when the media was reporting about “the endangered state of California,” we screen-printed some shirts with the bear from the flag of the state of California on them. The shirts were gray and the ink we used matched the color of the shirts making the bears intentionally difficult to see. We followed the shirts with a reproduction of the Bear Flag using a gray-blue fabric for each component and allowing the edges of each component to fray. It was a reminder that our state is always a blank slate and that as citizens we have a choice in what our state is and what it can and will be.

That flag led to a series of flags that do some or all of the following, but are still recognizable as the California flag:

  • rearrange or reposition the components (star, bear, ground, stripe)
  • recolor or retexture (through fabric choices) the components
  • resize or re-proportion the components overall or in relation to each other
  • remove components
  • use anagrams of CALIFORNIA REPUBLIC
  • reproduce another historic California flag

When we travel and when people visit us in our home, the flags are often shared and a conversation ensues about the diverse past, present, and imagined futures of our state. People play with the components of the flag and we inevitably create new flags as a result of their ideas. We call this project Californias, a conversation about our collective hopes and dreams for the place that we have called home for over twenty-two years. These are parallel Californias, Parallelifornias that coexist in time and space. They are not a call for splitting the state that we love for all its contrasts, its imperfections, and its beauty. It’s exactly the opposite, an appreciation for our California, simultaneously one and infinite.

We have several more flags in the works and we’re always on the lookout for ideas. If you would like to be part of this conversation, please contact us with your thoughts. Last year, Sophia and Enzo made a Scratch project that allows you to move around the components of the flag. It’s not the same as sketching or playing with fabrics, but if you make something you like with it, please take a screenshot and share it with us.


Awesome, on so many levels.