Jerusalem, We Are Here (Dorit Naaman)

Canada/Jerusalem, 2016
Sustained Turbulence

Dorit Naaman

Under Israeli occupation since 1967, East Jerusalem has been increasingly divided by walls that destroy communities. Lives of the city's Palestinian residents are policed by checkpoints, and their movements are tracked by surveillance cameras.

Despite the intense violence since the mid-twentieth century, often reductively framed as a longstanding animosity between "Arabs and Jews," Jerusalem was historically a city where Jews, Christians, and Muslims, Arabs and non-Arabs, lived peacefully together, traded, and sometimes even married.

Jerusalem, We Are Here revives that history, digitally erasing checkpoints, walls, and barriers, to give access to the haunted Palestinian past and the lost city, excavating and relayering the present Jerusalem with its multi-ethnic, multi-religious, and multicultural past. The camera does not surveil, but instead provides an intimate look into communities that have been erased from the space, carefully considering the various forms of erasure (political, developmental, gentrification, etc.).

Available in Arabic and English, Jerusalem, We Are Here includes virtual tours (or re-visitings for Palestinians and others whose families who once lived in Jerusalem). The tours include audio commentary by the site's guides and by experts and witnesses, black-and-white and color photographs, ambient sounds and music, as well as detailed information about the sites and the people who lived, worked, or entertained in them.

The project also includes an interactive map called a "remapping of Jerusalem" with historical information and images. The basemap is color-coded to indicate buildings constructed before or after the Nakba, as well as ones that have been identified as houses of particular families, embassies, factories, monasteries, and so forth. Most include photographs of the present; some also include archival photographs from the past. The project continues to remap these neighborhoods, house by house.

This work was curated in FLEFF 2017 and selected for a jury prize.

Dorit Naaman is a documentarist and film theorist born and raised in Jerusalem. She teaches film and media at Queen's University in Ontario (Canada) and splits her time between Canada and Jerusalem. Naaman developed a format of short personal documentaries, which she calls DiaDocuMEntaRy. She has published on Israeli and to a lesser extent Palestinian cinema, focusing on gender, nationalism and militarism. She initiated Jerusalem, We Are Here as a collaborative platform that can map and tell the stories of a Jerusalem that is no longer visible.