Yael Bartana | Israel

The Flautist from Shiekh Jarrah, 2010

Video, Black and White, Blue Ray 7.30 min.
Sound: Daniel Meir

Produced with the support of the Museum on the Seam, Jerusalem
Courtesy of the artist and Sommer Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv

“Yael Bartana is a one-woman anthropological expedition. Each and every one of her projects is thoroughly researched. Partly staged and partly documentary, her video works explore social and political rituals with a profound, ironic gaze.” Writes Aviva Lori in Haaretz “In my films I aim to show people where they live.

To pierce the wall of indifference. I am an artist and in no way a politician, and I do things out of love for this place.” Sheikh Jarrah is a Palestinian neighborhood located north of the Old City of Jerusalem.

In 2009 more than 50 Palestinians were evicted from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah following an Israeli Supreme Court ruling. The court recognized these houses as Jewish property prior to 1948, thus allowing Jews to make ownership claims over them. The Palestinians under question are refugees, who were forced to escape in 1948 and leave behind their property in Jaffa. Their ownership rights to their original property, which became state property and therefore settled by others, are not recognized by anyone. Twice dispossessed, the refugees find themselves thrown into the street.

The aforementioned court ruling will enable the eviction of approximately 25 additional families now residing in Sheikh Jarrah A story with a moral… The town of Hamelin was disturbed by a plague of rats.

Just when hopelessness and despair were about to conquer the residents’ fighting spirit, a mysterious piper arrived in town, offering to rid it of its rats for a fee. The town councilors ultimately agreed to the deal with the stranger, thinking that if he succeeded it would be for the best, and if he failed—nothing would changed and their city would still be doomed.

The next day the piper made his way through the village streets, piping a sweet-sounding tune. To the citizens’ great surprise, rats began swarming out of every house and street, lured by the pipe’s marvelous sounds.

When flocks of rats gathered behind him, the piper headed out of town. He marched down to the river and entered the water, as he carried on playing his music, and all the rats followed suit and drowned. Hamelin was thus saved of its pestilence.

Returning to claim his reward, the piper was angrily refused by the townsfolk, who demanded that he be driven away forthwith. Realizing that he would not get his due, the stranger took his pipe and began to play a different captivating tune.

Boys and girls swarmed out of their homes and filled the streets, unable to resist the magical sound. With all the town children flocking at his heels, the piper paced out of town and into a great big mountain, never to be seen again. The town of Hamelin was bereft of its children due to its citizens’ dishonesty and immorality.