Amoula il Majnoona

Amoula's blog from Ramallah

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

"Material for a film" at the Venice Biennale

I am currently exhibiting a new work at this year’s Venice Biennale. Robert Storr invited me to participate in his exhibition entitled Think with the senses – Feel with the mind.
I am presenting Material for a film (2005 – ongoing). This installation in Venice is comprised of photographs, text, video and sound pieces and was devised in part with the support of La Biennale di Venezia.
Here is a brief text I wrote, one installation shot, and some components from the piece.

Material for a film (2005 – ongoing)

Wael Zuaiter was the first victim in Europe in a series of assassinations committed by Israeli agents of Palestinian artists, intellectuals and diplomats that was already underway in the Middle East. Zuaiter was gunned down with 12 bullets outside his apartment in Piazza Annibaliano, Rome on October 16th, 1972.

In 1979, Wael Zuaiter’s companion of eight years, Sydney born artist Janet Venn-Brown published For A Palestinian – A Memorial to Wael Zuaiter. One chapter, titled Material for a film by Elio Petri and Ugo Pirro, is comprised of a series of interviews conducted with the people who were part of Wael’s life in Italy, including Janet herself. They were going to make a film, but Elio Petri died shortly afterwards and the film was never realized. This chapter was the point of departure for my project.

I went back to Rome in 2005 to continue collecting material for a film.

I visited his friends in Rome, Massa Carrara and elsewhere and I made several trips to Nablus to visit his sister Naila and see his family home where he grew up. I visited Janet Venn-Brown in Rome regularly during these three years. We spent many weeks together, calling on Wael’s old friends and going through her extensive archives. I found a letter Janet had written to Costas Gavras asking him to consider making a film about Wael because she believed that through his story, the story of thousands of other Palestinians could be told.

Wael’s friends during his ten years in Rome included a myriad of cultural leaders, artists, journalists and poets, including Alberto Moravia (with whom he traveled twice to the Middle East with), Raphael Alberti, Antonio Gambini, Bruno Cagli, Jean Genet, Ennio Politi, Piero Della Seta, and Pier Paolo Pasolini.

Janet told me “He was a poet. He was completely lost without poetry.”

Wael Zuaiter in Peter Seller's "Pink Panther"

When Wael was living in Italy he used to sometimes be an extra in films in order to have some money. During my research I discovered that Wael Zuaiter had a role as a waiter when he was an extra in Peter Seller's film The Pink Panther, Rome, Cinecitta Studios, 1963. According to Janet he was so charismatic that the director picked him out of the crowd and offered him a speaking part but each time he got in front of the camera and they said; "Ready! Shoot!" he froze and forgot all his lines.
After Janet described his role to me, I managed to find 3 glimpses of him in the film. Janet told me she was quite disappointed when the film came out, as she sat through it twice only to see that he was a quick flash across the screen.

15/9/2005, Piazza Annibaliano, Roma

Piazza Annibaliano, Roma

Wael Zuaiter lived here in apartment #20 on the 7th floor. The 93 bus and the 80 bus come here. I am sitting outside across the street from his building eating lunch on Viale Eritrea, wondering which streets he walked down. Did he ever eat here? Where did he buy his paper and cigarettes?

He made a phone call at the Trieste Bar next door before going home as both his electricity and phone bills had been cut because he did not have enough money to pay his bills. Wael entered this doorway to go across the courtyard and enter Scala C, which was the entrance to his wing of the building (to the left).

Where were the Mossad agents hiding? It was around 10:30 p.m. when he headed to the stairwell of entrance C to take the elevator up to his flat. He made a phone call at the Trieste Bar next door before going home as both his electricity and phone bills

He reached the elevator. He was shot 12 times with a .22 calibre pistol with a silencer at close range.

After spending several hours inside his building examining his floor, the courtyard and elevator, I leave. As I am crossing the street to take one last picture of his side of the building I look down and see an old suitcase before me.

la rivoluzione palestinese

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At 5:04 PM, Blogger Lunettes Rouges said...

Congratulations for your work.

At 2:09 AM, Blogger wael said...

congratulations for your work keep it on going

Best Regards
Wael Waddah Zuaiter

At 9:25 AM, Blogger Souhad said...

Congratulations on receiving your well-deserved Golden Lion. I feel privileged to have seen "Material for a Film" in this important venue and my emotions were succumbed by the end, when I couldn't stop crying.


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