Dominique THIRIONphotography

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catastrophes

A few keys

All the photographs were taken in Berlin in June 2010, at the Jewish Museum, the Prenzlauerberg Jewish cemetery, the Weißensee Jewish cemetery and the Holocaust Memorial.

Shoah, which means ‘catastrophe’ in Hebrew, refers to the systematic extermination by Nazi Germany of two-thirds of the Jewish population in Europe during the Second World War which, according to historians’ estimates, represents between five and six million victims.

The term Nakba, which means ‘catastrophe’ in Arabic, refers to the consequences of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war when over 700,000 Palestinians fled their towns and villages in the zone that has since become the State of Israel. They have never been authorised to return and their land, seized by the Israeli government, has been given to Jewish immigrants.

Mahmoud Darwish (1941-2008), a key figure in Palestinian poetry, was deeply committed to the struggle of his people. Having lived in exile for over thirty years, he was finally allowed to return to Palestine in 1996, subject to conditions.
The extracts from Mahmoud Darwish’s poem ‘Bypassers in bypassing words’ are taken from the anthology ‘Palestine, mon pays: l'affaire du poème’, Paris, Minuit, 1988.

You who pass by in bypassing words
carry your names and leave
Remove your hours from our time, leave
Extort what you wish
from the blue of the sky and the sands of memory, leave.

You who pass by in bypassing words
like bitter dust, pass by where you wish
but do not pass by in our midst, like flying insects
We have things to do in our land
we have wheat to grow
to water with the dew of our bodies
We have what does not please you here
stones and partridges
So carry the past, if you so wish
to the antiques market
and restore the crested skeleton
on a tray of porcelain
We have what does not please you here
We have the future
and we have things to do in our land
leave

You who pass by in bypassing words
Take the photos you wish to take, to find out
that you will not find out
how the stones of our land
build the roof of the sky
But the sky and the air
are the same for you and for us
So take your share of our blood, and leave
go and dine, feast, and dance, and then leave
It’s for us to keep the roses of martyrs
It’s for us to live as we wish.

“You who pass by in bypassing words
cram your illusions into an abandoned pit, and leave
restore the hands of time to the legitimacy of the golden calf
or the musical beat of the revolver
We have what does not please you here, leave
We have what is not yours:
a bleeding homeland, a bleeding people
a homeland good for oblivion and memories
You who pass by in bypassing words
it’s time you left
and settled where you like
but do not settle among us
It’s time you left
and died where you like
but do not die among us
We have things to do in our land
here, we have the past
the inaugural voice of life
and we have the present, the present and the future
we have the here and the beyond

So leave our land
our terra firma, our sea
our wheat, our salt, our wounds
everything, go
leave the recollections of the memory
Oh you who pass by in bypassing words”.

Mahmoud Darwish’s text is read by Soufian El Boubsi, author, director and actor (Des murs et des mots created in conjunction with the Theatre for Everybody in Gaza; Un monde presque parfait, official selection of the Théâtre des Doms in Avignon in 2008; Papa est en voyage, written and performed by Hamadi, critics’ prize in the ‘alone on stage’ category in 2009; Sans ailes et sans racines, official selection of the Théâtre des Doms in 2009 and press favourite at the Off festival; l’Insoumise ou Scarlet O’Hara au pied de terril, nominated for the critics’ prize in the ‘alone on stage’ category in 2010.).

Henryk Gorecki, Polish composer (1933-2010).
Symphony No 3 (also known as the Symphony of Sorrowful Songs) for soprano and orchestra, composed in 1976.
The extract, taken from the third movement, lento-cantabile-semplice, is based on a traditional Polish song.

Arvo Pärt, Estonian composer (1935- ).
Miserere, for mixed choir, written in 1989.
This work, based on the Miserere setting of Psalm 51, includes a Dies irae which Pärt had outlined in 1976.

Philip Glass, American composer (1937- ).
Two Pages for electronic organs, composed in 1968.
This work is the first time Philip Glass has used a rigorous procession of accumulation and repetition of a single musical cell of five notes.


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