It seems that in places where it is difficult to live and survive, where the threat of extreme violence or catastrophe is physically palpable every second of the day... that is where the desire for art is often greater than elsewhere. At least, that’s what I saw and heard every time I visited the Occupied Territories. ‘Because this is the only thing that can nourish our hope’, it was explained to me.

Is it because here, too, we have never felt the threat of a major catastrophe coming so close that, when asked the question ‘what would you like to see on stage today?’, the dancers in Ombra answered: beauty... comfort... embrace...
Is that why I suddenly see the introduction of sign language into Ombra as a metaphor for our deafness in the face of the heartbreaking and insufferable crying elsewhere in the world?
Is that why we can only portray a catastrophe as a gigantic Rubensian tableau in which the bodies move in slow motion?

By the way, when swiping on social media, don’t we see Beyoncé’s new hit just after the bodycam footage of a fatal arrest... the recipe for a vegan meal... a prank at work and... family members carrying pieces of their children’s body parts from their bombed-out home? Doesn’t éverything just become ‘blurry’?

On the other hand, a simple but crystal-clear phrase such as CEASEFIRE NOW, which no one could fundamentally be against, has become for many a more dangerous weapon than the tonnes of bombs that are scattered in densely populated areas around the world. People who say it are seen as suspect, taunted, expelled, lose their jobs or in the worst case they are arrested, locked up and tortured or murdered. I write this in solidarity with them.

Alain Platel

published on: 26.03.24