Speech by Ingrid Rollema at the finissage Cast Lead

Dear honored members of the audience, a very warm Welcome to you all. It is good to see all of you here. Thank you for coming and for your attention and presence here tonight. Because of our so many honoured guests from abroad we have decided to do our closing event in English. Thank you for coming from so far to be with us!
I have to announce that our guest of honor and a man of peace: Dr. Antohon Shuhaiber very sadly cannot be with us. The very long and complex process necessary not only to leave Gaza bud also to enter Europe made it impossible for him to join us. This example is one of the most important points and driving forces behind the project CAST LEAD: that there are parts of the world which are closed off and surrounded. Where people are not free to come and go as they wish. We cannot visit the living, but the dead we can remember anywhere in the world. We can remember them in our imaginations, and like Nomads, all over the world.
The world now--what is happening.? We stand here together in an important Temple of Art, and we take our place literaly IN a work of Art that is also a Public Space.
The world is struggling with democracy. With the emergence of the Arab Spring it strikes me how extremely one dimensional the view is many people have about the Arabic world. If we talk about Libya, do we see more than Kadaffy? If we talk about Egypt, do we see more than Mubarrak?
How is it possible that we have no clear vision about our neighbors on the southern beaches of the beautiful Mediterranean Sea? Is it on purpose that we do not know our neighbors? Is it on purpose that our neighbors have no personal face for us? Is that the ultimate result of world politics? Have we developed a cultural quarantine? Is this perhaps how it always goes in war: a faceless enemy, not human, not like us, not like our family? Do we prevent soldiers from seeing a human face and therefore it is possible to kill a faceless enemy. The lie that the others are not like us. That they are NOT HUMAN.
It seems that this phenomenon is not happening with the country of Iran. Iran with its poets and enormous film industry has a more layered face for us in the West. We sense and admire their long civilization. We ponder the enormous negative consequences for their population, by the threat of war that they are faced with on a daily basis. There are thankfully rips in the cultural cordon there.
With all the blockades and walls it seems that the more time that passes, the more the population of PALESTINE gets a face that we can recognize and identify with. This identification has everything to do with the Installation that you are standing in.
This week I said good bye to a dear old woman of 86 who was a very kind person. When one person dies who you care about, your world stands still. Here lie 1430 people who were tragically wiped out in one go. What an enormous, unfathomable sadness that must have been. What we are trying to do here is to remove the cultural blocks that are thrown up around us. We are trying to get rid of and break through the walls that make us feel like strangers from each other. We are trying to make a contribution by giving each tragically lost life a face and a name. By each face belongs a voice. A voice that says, ”Don’t kill me. I long to live my life, just as you long to live. I have children, just as you have children. Let me live and survive and thrive. See me as I am. A human being, just like you!”