Potential History, Photographic Documents, Mandatory Palestine
Ariella Azoulay’s exhibition within the larger exhibition is constructed as a visual essay. It relies on the concept of “potential history,” developed by Azoulay as a working tool that combines photography and citizenship. Using some twenty photographs accompanied by texts, Azoulay traces desires and possibilities that existed in Palestine in the past, and the practices that guided some of its figures. Possibilities which, even if they were not realized or institutionalized, carried a potential that was interrupted with the establishment of a sovereign regime that created a political ruling body of a differential and conflictual nature.
Azoulay presents a new film she directed for this exhibition, titled “Civil Alliance, Palestine 47–48.” The film centers around the exposure of a crucial episode in the local history that has been effaced from memory. Between the months preceding the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine (November 1947) and the establishment of the state of Israel (May 1948), Jews and Palestinians began negotiating in order to put an end to the violence that national and military forces were attempting to incite. This intensive civil activity consisted mainly of urgent meetings—some short and spontaneous, others well-planned to the smallest detail—in which participants raised demands, sought compromises, set up rules, formulated agreements, made promises, asked for forgiveness, and exercised efforts to compensate and pacify—all in order to keep the violence from taking over their lives. The film takes place around a map of mandatory Palestine, which is covered in dots that mark the places in which such meetings took place. Some 15 women and men report, in Hebrew and Arabic, on several dozens of such meetings, which local history has forgotten: meetings in which Jews and Palestinians promised each other they would do everything in order to sustain their common life.