In collaboration with A Heart For Refugees, we are showing the film 'Sometimes one hour, sometimes three hours' by KASK student Maaike Jaspers in S.M.A.K.'s Barco Hall. In it, Palestinians Khalil and Mohammed tell their story using maps.
"I have never been to Palestine. I have only scrolled there, starting from Belgium. With a poor sense of scale, and a biased compass, I wonder: what is hidden in the instruments I use to navigate?
Khalil and Mohammed give me some landmarks. By drawing maps, they reconstruct the places of their former lives in Palestine and the geographical circumstances of their friendship. Traces that are anything but dotted lines on Google Maps."
- Maaike Jaspers, KASK student.
Jaspers created the film 'Sometimes one hour, sometimes three hours' in recent years. The spring of 2021 saw unrest in East Jerusalem, where Palestinian residents of the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood were evicted from their homes. Protests swelled, both there and in Belgium. During that period, Maaike Jaspers met Palestinians Khalil and Mohammed at the Olive Tree, a meeting place of A Heart For Refugees.
Jaspers helped think about how the Palestinians' stories could be brought more to the fore and subsequently decided to record interviews with Khalil and Mohammed. They told about their lives in Palestine using maps. Through Arabic and the universal language of drawing, they were able to share their stories.
For this project, Jaspers delved into 'radical cartography' or 'critical cartography', a methodology employed by social geographers. In this methodology, maps are made that are different from the usual maps in which certain power relations are maintained.
As a non-Palestinian outsider, Maaike Jaspers searched for a way to position herself in the film. This includes her own scrolling on Google Maps and questions the way she herself uses maps. For Jaspers, a film is always a construction and does not offer a neutral window on the world.
"In my life, Google maps is an important tool to orientate me. It gives me a reassuring feeling of overview, a feeling that is at odds with reality. Because in the construction of those maps, many parameters play a role. Within the 'overview', there are many invisibilities. Even Google maps are not neutral.'