Saturday, January 16, 2021

A virtual piece of the Danish coastline in Ramallah

By Eli Lillis - November 19, 2018
Section: [Main News] [IN PICTURES]
Tags: [artist] [culture] [freedom of movement]

Danish filmmaker Matilde Nørgaard first came to Palestine in 2016 when she produced a documentary in collaboration with Palestinian director Eliah Ghorbiah. The culture and people fascinated her, and she quickly fell in love with Palestine.

In her interactions with Palestinians at the time, she noted a longing for the ocean, and decided to bring the ocean to the people as best she could.
“During my first visit, Eliah told me because of the occupation there is no more coastline. If you look at the old maps you can see that Palestine once had quite a large coastline,” Nørgaard said.
'My school was a cross media film school, we learnt using newer medias that are available. I decided this is the perfect case for virtual reality, something that has a human purpose,’ Nørgaard stated.
So with her first foray into VR technology, Nørgaard went about capturing the essence of the beautiful Danish west coast.
“In Denmark we have a huge coastline surrounding our country and we take it for granted to be able to experience the ocean and go there to have room to breathe and to help your mind flow. I wanted to share that with the Palestinian people,” Nørgaard said.
"I want to give the Palestinians a room for their thoughts to just flow, and not to think about their children or the crisis or the news… just give them a physical space to let their minds flow. They can use that room for anything they want, I’m just trying to give them the peace I know from the ocean," Nørgaard said.
The installation held at Sakakini Cultural Centre from November 8-12, includes virtual reality footage of the ocean and also plays upon all the senses: classically composed sound design hums through the air, participants take off their shoes and stand in sand and have water splashed upon their feet whilst wind from a fan blows a scent specifically created for the exhibit.
Sea shells brought from Denmark are an opportunity for Palestinians to take a small part of the ocean home with them.
Ribhi Karajah is an artist also currently exhibiting at the cultural centre. When he heard about the exhibit, he was excited to experience it.
“I’ve seen the sea once before, when I was a kid, maybe two or three years old. Because of the Israeli occupation I can never get to the sea. It’s been 18 years since I’ve seen the ocean,” Karajah explained.
“We can’t go to the sea, we miss it, we love it, and now I have a chance to experience it. Even though it was the Danish coast, it reminded me of Palestine.”
"I grew up on the coastline, and we had a beach house on the west coast, so it was very natural for me. As a westerner you can’t imagine not seeing the coast for 20 years. For me that’s where I find peace," Nørgaard said.

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