​© Álvaro Gómez Pidal 2019

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THIS LAND

Jerusalem, 1948. On the night of the fifth of January the Semiramis hotel was bombed by a zionist militia group called Haganah, suspecting that the hotel may hide Palestinian commanders. And in spite of enfearing the locals to vacate their homes so they could be occupied. Many civilians were killed in the act, including the Spanish vice-consul Manuel Allende Salazar.

Manuel was my grand uncle.

 

In june 2015 I was invited to the Tel Aviv Studient Film festival. They toured us all around the Holy Land for a week. Leading to a very complex scheme of perceptions that developed as a mosaic throughout three visits between 2015 and 2017.

Through different techniques, mixed-media and formats, this project explores the personal experience in trying to understand what led to the killing of Manuel, the creation of the state of Israel and the Palestinian struggle in a post-colonial process. 

 

 



 

PART I
"Is Your Land"


What makes this piece of land Holy and promised? I wonder rhetorically. My eyes see with that question for a lens. "This Land was made for you and me" -as from the song by Woody Guthrie.

 

They put you in a bus, you watch films every evening, they make you drunk and you travel without stopping or sleeping. That is the Film Bus Project from the Tel Aviv University. The bus got me an overview from Tel-Aviv to small Arab villages, Galilee, the Negev desert and the Dead Sea. By chance I was given Arab hosts.

On the first ride to the old Jaffa Rola spoke:

"Most of Europeans take a chance, let's say between wars when it's quiet and they come to

see everything and then go"
"Here the army is an obligation. After becoming 18 it is very hard not to be political"



 

Just a land

In 2016 my Palestinian host called me in to work as the cinematographer for his movie. On those days withIn the experience of using the popular Tinder app, I was shocked and disgusted. Many of the profiles displayed pictures of the users in their military uniform and holding their guns, sometimes relaxed, sometimes in service, with sexy poses. I realized how the mandatory military service acts on these young people. It is part of their youth, like if it was the first part of the college years. Therefore this experience becomes romantic and machines made for killing become mundane and sexy.





 

In this process I learned that the Haganah, that bombed the Semiramis Hotel, later became the regular Israeli army, IDF. Therefore I imagined that if you could use Tinder in 1948, I may have been able to find and match the Haganah militants that bombed the Semiramis Hotel within the app. Israel first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion took part in the Haganah.





 

Haganah militia patrolling the Ketamon area by the rubble of the Semiramis




 

Swiping profiles.





 

PART II
"The Journey to Absurdity"




 

The Franco regime used the killing of Manuel as anti semitic propaganda. Opposing the creation of Israel not for other real reason than to be against the Jews, even after Hitler had been defeated. He sent crews to train the armies of the surrounding Arab countries as well as munitions and fighter planes.





 

The Allende Salazar brothers and sisters. Manuel (22) on the right, my grand mother Amparo (18) to his right. From civil-war exile in Lisbon 1940.




 

1/11

On the bombing of the Semiramis. From the book "O Jerusalem" by historians Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins.




 

Ahmed Asayed was a studient at the Jerusalem Teaching School. He worked as a waiter at the Semiramis to pay his studies. He survived the bombing. His grand son was  Adbel Basset Odeh. On March 27th 2002 he suicide bombed the Park Hotel in Netanya, killing thirty civilians. He had claimed that this bombing was to avenge the killing at the Semiramis.





 

1/4

Shortly after the first visit I had a dream. I was on a warm beach. Far ahead by the water there was a figure. I approached to find it was a castaway in templar knight rags. He suddenly woke spiting water and coughing. Then rised his gaze to find a girl picking something from the sand. I looked closer  believing she was collecting sea shells. To my surprise it was not sea shells, but bullet shells. My subconscious had made up a word play. Then I wondered how a crusader would feel upon arrival to the contemporary Holy Land.





 

PART III
"The Dream"




 

DISPLAY MOCKUPS




 

Source materials:
HD Video Stills

16mm Film Stills
Archive photography
Mobile device screenshots
Object and document scans
Pencil illustrations
MP3 sound recordings

Intended In room display:
Photographic prints

Smartphone and tablet devices
Real life objets and documents
Sound with ambient speakers
HD video projections