Ladders fall from the sky like rain, enabling two little girls dressed in pristine white to escape to the ethereal zone above the clouds. For a more realistic message, there is a snapshot of two women dressed in burkhas desperately hugging each other near a wall on which graffiti is scrawled in blood red colours. While one image captures a slice of life in Palestine’s Gaza Strip, the other expresses the fantasy of escape. The two images will be a part of a festival, titled Gaza51, which aims to sensitise Indian audiences to what it means to be young and living in a relentless conflict. The festival will be held in Delhi from September 30 to October 15.
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“Israel has made three major and several minor attacks on the Gaza Strip. The last was in the summer of 2014 when missiles pounded Gaza for 51 days. Gaza was devastated,” says Sudhanva Deshpande of Studio Safdar, an arts organisation in Delhi, which will host a part of the festival. The festival rose out of Hyderabad-based drama therapist Mahnoor Yar Khan’s many visits to Gaza in the past 20 years. Gaza51 will exhibit works by people between 14 and 25 years that show their responses to the 51-day attack and present aggressions. The works will reach out to young people in India, and be exhibited in JNU, Jamia Millia, Ambedkar University, Studio Safdar and Khoj.
Deshpande will speak at the Ambedkar University in a segment, titled “Eye-Witness in Palestine”. “Not big things, I want to talk about small things that shape people’s lives,” says Deshpande.There will be dramatic presentations by Inder Salim, poetry readings, talks by political scientists, artists and Palestinian students, film screenings, folk song performances and dance recital. Local groups will conduct dramatised presentations of Gaza Monologue and Seven Jewish Children: A Play for Gaza.
Despande adds that the artworks reveal courage and hope. “To encounter Gaza51 is to take away that message of fortitude, hope and optimism,” he says.
Gaza51 will be held from September 30 to October 15