Picnic in the heart of Ramallah, namely on the Bint Jubeil Street, was organised by the Public Programme of the A. M. Qattan Foundation (AMQF) in partnership with the Ramallah Municipality. Produced in the context of Wein A Ramallah Festival, Picnic engaged a group of narrators in the Narratives Collective as well as a number of musicians, including Shadi Zaqtan and Nour al-Ra’i, with visitors and residents of Ramallah, who told stories about their relationship with the city.
Picnic is the first version of a project produced by the Collectives Programme of the AMQF Public Programme. In 2017, the project theme seeks to furnish an opportunity to meet within the public space, tell stories of the residents of Ramallah, and raise questions about the relationship between people and the city.
The Collectives Programme supports collectives in various disciplines. These are informed by an unconventional approach, embrace a critical stance towards inherited and stereotypical ideas, and ensure a professional working methodology within the current Palestinian cultural milieu. Collectives seek to shift focus from the current consumption of neoliberal culture and political, religious and tribal fundamentalism to a process of cultural production, which can generate a transformation and produce a different imagination for an alternative future.
Dana Abbas, Project Coordinator of the AMQF Public Programme, stated: “Every time, we try to occupy a public space differently. We integrate these spaces in people’s imagination as places, where they can be present. For us, it is important to introduce the idea of the ‘contemporary moment’ and look at the city not just as a place of memories and contrast between the present and nostalgia. Rather, we look at our relationship with the city, how we imagine it in the future, how we identify our presence, belonging or alienation from it. We do not usually talk about this.”
“It was an unexpected experience in a place where people are supposed to just pass by or go shopping. It was an opportunity to hear people’s narratives and secrets about the city. I was struck by the details which people notice about the city. Even children were happy expressing their love of the city of Ramallah.” Fida Ataya, a member of the Narratives Collective, said about her experience.
Shadi Zaqtan stated: “I think the experience was very important. It melted down many barriers people used to face. The street is for the people. Any person can sit and talk about any subject. You draw conversations out of them.”
Over three hours, Picnic brought together many passers-by and visitors who arrived especially to take part in the meeting. For example, Manar Zeid came from the city of Qalqiliya. “I have come to hear people’s narratives and how they see Ramallah for their own perspective. The idea is beautiful: to meet with friends and people and to talk more about the city that brings us all together. It was a wonderful opportunity to hear what people think of Ramallah - the beautiful and resourceful city.” Manar explained.
The AMQF will publish a brochure, including the narratives collected from people about the contemporary city of Ramallah.