Video, color, sound, 70 minutes
4 March 2016, 7-9pm
(film begins at 7:30pm, with an introduction by Kamal Aljafari)
5 until 25 March 2016
Screening at 11am, 1pm, 3pm, 5pm
It’s a reformative recasting. Kamal Aljafari's 70-minute film Recollection (2015) stars the city of Jaffa as the city of Jaffa as the city of Jaffa. Presently known as Tel Aviv-Jaffa, the city has changed by more than name since its 1950 annexation to Israel. It no longer exists.
Aljafari searched for its specters through American and Israeli films shot there between the 1960s and the 1990s. He then methodically cut all of the protagonists from those appropriated scenes, isolated, slowed down, or enlarged details otherwise hidden within the margins, and reorganized it all to form an implicit point-of-view narrative that is highly personal.
The empty backdrops are anything but empty, and the inhabitants Aljafari reveals within them gain a prominence antithetical to the original plots. Resuscitating an archive of fictionalized versions of Palestine, Aljafari subjects the scenes to a system of exclusion that demonstratively mirrors Jaffa’s own contentious history. In other words, through Recollection, Aljafari summons an idealized surrogate Jaffa — a stand-in for the razed Jaffa he can now only remember.
Aljafari will introduce Recollection, and will be in attendance for its first screening in Germany at Kunstverein München.
The corner where the blue car is parked
faces the house of my grandparents.
The car was the taxi owned by Ahmad Farraj
my grandmother’s relative.
It sits by the corner built of limestone
I liked leaning my back into it as a child.
It is where my grandfather sat
with his small transistor radio in the summer afternoon.
Above us the sand martins
would fly in and out of the windows
of the abandoned house on the second floor.
I still hear their sound filling the sweet air.
My uncle Mahmoud walking in Ajami neighborhood;
it was probably a Sunday morning
on his way back to the hospital.
The woman at the window is the neighbor, Emily Madbak. She was born in Gaza to a family from Jaffa.
The old man at the cafe door is Issa Khimel.
His father was hanged in the Clock Square
by the Turks for spying for the British
together with two other people;
one of them was a priest.
His daughter Labibe stands at the window above the cafe.
The man in the white jacket is a Polish barber.
The man with the sunglasses is
El Imam, who always sat in El Binni cafe.
He was married to Ane.
Her sister Karkura didn’t talk to her.
A group of men standing below a balcony.
The one in the yellow shirt
is Abu George Shibli.
His boat once grazed the rocks in Jaffa’s port.
The sea was high.
The girl with the schoolbag could have been my mother.
The grand red house overlooking the sea
is the house where Ibrahim Bilbesi
and his son Hussein, my grandfather,
sought shelter after the war.
They stayed there for two months
until the army came and forced them to leave.
My mother was born in the house
with the cement stairs.
Their neighbors were
Ahmad Farraj was a kind man, he always drove my mother to El Areesh.
He was married to Margo, a Kurdish Jew from Iraq.
They had two children, a son living in Tel Aviv and
a daughter living in Jaffa.
I never met them.
Ahmad had a brother in Lebanon
that he never saw again.
My uncle Mahmoud walking in Ajami neighbourhood;
it was probably a Sunday morning
on his way back to the hospital again.
There is another red house, with a balcony.
I once made love on the first floor.
On my last day, during my last visit,
I walked by the house.
I stopped because I saw a German film crew
repeating a scene:
a young woman stands at the door,
she is received by a woman her age
who seems surprised to see her,
then a man comes out of the door
and walks towards her.
They kiss passionately.
It was 9 in the morning
a quiet Sunday morning,
I was walking back from the port.
I passed by my grandparents’ house
then walked across the street
and passed by Emily’s house
where the window is.
Now the room has no roof
and the window has metal bars.
She still lives in the house.
I passed by the street, passing several doors,
I could recognize them all from the picture.
I stopped and thought I should take a picture
to remember the names written on the doors:
The next door had no name
but only a poster of a springtime scene.
A man saw me stopping
and walking back to take a picture.
'A picture lasts longer than a human being'
The streets of my childhood
and my adolescence.
The street behind Angel Hamati’s house
where the mosque is.
The stairs leading to the water tower.
Zaki Khimel tells me it is he
who is standing at the window
and not his sister Labibe.
I remember it was 4 in the morning
when I looked out of the window
to see a film crew filming.
He worked at sea
and was married to Raafat’s sister.
He called himself Levi to find work in Tel Aviv.
He is the tallest man in Jaffa.
Ibrahim El Binni
A little girl, Diana or Rima.
Supported by Medienboard Berlin Brandenburg, Germanfilms, 2015.
production, conception, and photography: Kamal Aljafari
Visual Effects: Daniel Franke
Sound: Jacob Kirkegaard