Tearing down the wall (of soap)

The dinner event held last week by the Palestinian delegation to the Dead Sea World Economic Forum (WEF), was a chance to showcase Palestinian heritage and culture, as well as contemporary Palestinian and Jordanian contemporary creativity.

The Palestinian Cultural Experience, as the event was called, weaved together the work of numerous artists and technicians: design, architecture, writing, photography, lighting, music dance and gastronomy!

Supported and sponsored by a number of Palestinian corporations, the event’s concept was developed by Jerusalem based art curator and event organizer Jack Persekian, who pulled together the various individuals and companies that realized the event.

A highlight of the show’s set up was the backdrop of the stage: a wall made of of Nabusli soap! Resembling the menacing wall being constructed by Israel in the West Bank, the backdrop was built out of thousands of traditional Nabulsi olive oil based soap cubes. While forming a wall, the construction also resembled the way the traditional soap factories in Nablus stack their produce in their warehouses. It’s worth noting that Israel destroyed a number of these old factories in its 2002 incursion into the old city of Nablus.

The grand finale of the event came after dinner. Guest were asked to come to the stage and tear down the wall with their hands. The WEF audience enthusiastically obliged the request. Guests started removing the soap cubes, creating dents in the wall allowing the back lighting of the stage to penetrate, in a gesture symbolically emphasizing that the real wall must come down too. Cloth bags were made available for guests, allowing them to take home with them cubical pieces of Palestinian heritage.

2 Responses to “Tearing down the wall (of soap)”

  1. Salma Says:

    Ahamd…. I really loved what you and Salua did for the Palestinian evening… and I think the wall of soap was a very creative and powerful statement. I think it is important to keep a balance between keeping the “cause” under the spotlight while continuing to reveal the everyday life the Palestinian people. I think one of the main dangers that the Palestinian people are facing is them becoming “history” rather than an everyday presence. We are haunted by images of death, that nobody thinks about what is happening to the living… Those who are holding on to their olive trees and orange orchids…


  2. Ahmad Humeid Says:

    Thanks Salma.. good to hear from you!
    It’s worth noting that the idea of the soap wall is that of Jack’s. His art organization Al Ma’mal has issued a calendar for 2004 with images from the Nablus soap factories under the title “What Remains”. Very interesting stuff.

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