X-Mission Episodes One - Four 2009 - 2010
X-Mission is a piece of video research on the extra-territorial status of Palestinian camps and the refugees who inhabit them. Like the many extra-territorial and otherwise exceptional spaces that have emerged in the wake of globalisation, contemporary refugee camps are designated spaces outside the national territory.
Outlaws and paradigm shifter
Created in moments of crisis, camps are juridical zones of exception where populations get suspended from the political and civil rights that used to govern their lives. These populations become instead subordinated to the humanitarian conventions of the United Nations and the volatile domain of international politics.
There is a clause in the statue
A recent incident shows how fragile the status of the camp-bounded refugee proves to be time and again. In the summer of 2007 the Lebanese Army breached international convention and entered Nahr el Bared, a Palestinian refugee camp in Northern Lebanon, to eradicate a small number of foreign Islamists who had settled in this isolated camp. The operation grew out of all proportion and instead of securing the refugees’ habitat, the army razed the whole camp to the ground, declaring it a ‘zone of exception’.
They hear things collapsing
Rather than focusing on the stratified and often ambivalent apparatus of sovereignty that rules this space, the video draws attention to the flexible process through which the refugees have begun to re-inscribe themselves into the political fabric. While the battle over Nahr el Bared was still under way, a community-based reconstruction committee was established to research the state of the camp prior to its destruction and draw up an accurate plan that would serve as the ground for negotiations.
Normally such a story would pass unnoticed
What X-Mission however brings to light is that the attempt to confine people to a bounded space typically instigates a heightened desire to connect across distances and activate new forms of trans-local contact. The refugee camp harbours an intense microcosm of complex relations to the homeland and related communities abroad. There is a lively inter-camp and inter-diasporic communication going on among the widely dispersed Palestinian communities. A territory is no longer (just) a formal spatial arrangement but also a complex system of relations and large-scale structural networks.
View episodes five to seven