5cents a pound

An archive of inspiration, negotiating the world through artistic intervention

Andrea Micelli: The Palestinian Dream

Artist Statement:

The emergence of economical liberalism in Palestine influenced by the international community is dramatically changing the Palestinian society and economy. Although Palestine was recognized as an observer state by UN assembly, the title remains purely symbolic, as the “country” doesn’t control its border or its resources, and is still under Israeli military occupation. Former Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has implemented a strong liberal economy as a way of achieving a genuine state, following the recommendations of the IMF, the World Bank and the western donors. This economic ethos has encountered strong success amongst the Palestinian elite, and the international community. The society and the face of the country are being transformed within the main cities such as Ramallah, Bethlehem or Nablus. Shopping malls, banks, insurance companies, fast food outlets and luxurious hotels are constantly being built. The western entertainment activities have emerged: horse clubs, music clubs, fitness clubs, etc…. The Palestinian middle class is morphing itself with enthusiasm into a consumer society. Meanwhile the economy of the Palestinian territories remains the most aid-dependant amongst the third-world countries, and the “economic peace” promoted by Israel is shaping a total control of the Hebrew state over the Palestinian economical development. 

Read detailed account of each photo here. Select descriptions:

Photo 1: Jan 2013, Nablus city center: in the foreground, the old city, which is still standing despite the heavy damages endured during the two intifadas. In the middle, a giant mall center and multiplex cinema. In the background, the newer part of the city with towers. Like every developing city in the world, buildings are built always higher: but in Palestine, the height of estate is even more pushed by the land prize: in the 84% (B and C zones) of the West Bank, building requires permission from the Israeli army, almost never granted. Therefore the A zones (such as Nablus city) are the only part of the territory left for serious estate project, which prizes raise disproportionally every year due to the demographic pressure and the impossible territorial expansion.

Photo 3: June 2013, Qalandya, Ramallah, West Bank. Behind the fruit vendor, the biggest advertizing sign in the Palestinian territories displays a giant picture of Haifa, a mixed arab-israli city located in Israel, where many refuges are originated from but denied the access by Israel. The advert, for a telecommunication company, targets the few privileged Palestinian who are allowed to cross the check point and to go to Haifa, offering low tariff to call from Israel into West Bank. Most of Palestinian passing in front the advert could feel bitterness, as they have never seen Haifa, since Israel has established a closure policy in the West Bank. Mahmoud, the fruit vendor, has been to Haifa once in 1998, before the separation wall was built. His sons have never been to Israel.

Photo 13 : Jan 2013, Bethlehem suburb, Industrial zone. Initiated with the support of the French president Nicolas Sarkozy in order to support the Palestinian economy, the idea was to create a free zone for national and international investors, where the import and export would be facilitated thanks to privileged conditions negotiated with Israel, exempting the raw materials of import taxes and facilitating the passage of camions at the checkpoints. With only one Palestinian investor so far, the BMIP, company in charge of developing the zone, is struggling with little success to convince companies to move in the industrial zone. Out of the three projects of industrial zones in Palestine, it is however the less unfortunate one: it has the advantage of being the only one in the A zone, the 16% of the West Bank that is not under the control of the Israeli army. Even though, a small piece of the main road that would give access for camions is still under the control of the Israeli army, and so far didn’t get the permission to be built, blocking the development of the zone.

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