Thomas Kilpper

Title: Al Hissan – The Jenin Horse
a video by Thomas Kilpper
Duration: 26:037
Format: digital video 4:3
Language: Palestinian Arabic
Subtitles: English
Production date: 2003
Production country: Palestine
Acknowledgements: Qattan Foundation and Goethe Institute Ramallah

Al Hissan – The Jenin Horse 2003
Art in Public Space Under Conditions of Occupation

“By invitation of the Goethe Institute Ramallah, I led a several-week-long workshop with Palestinian youths in Jenin in the summer 2003. Together we built a five-metre tall horse out of scrounged metal taken from destroyed houses and cars. The horse was subsequently towed through the streets of Jenin and, at a later point, almost 200 km away through the occupied territories of the West Bank.”

Kunstjournalen B-post 2009 → Do not let the past rest in peace. Thomas Kilpper in dialogue with Annette Kierulf.

AK: Another of your projects that made a strong impression is the video of your Palestine project; AL HISSAN – The Jenin Horse, 2003 – 2004. You were invited by the Goethe Institute in Ramallah to head a workshop with Palestinian youth. Together you made a five meter high horse out of scrap metal from destroyed houses and cars, and with the aid of a tractor you travelled with it from Jenin to Ramallah and back, though all the checkpoints. Your subtitle on this work is Art in Public Space Under Conditions of Occupation. Can you elaborate on what this means?

TK: Since 1967 the Palestinian territories have been under occupation by the Israeli Army. In 2003 the war-like confrontation between Israel and Palestine escalated dramatically. Public space was closed down by the Israeli Army for long periods and the Palestinian population were contained in their homes. This was the situation at the time I was invited by the Goethe Institute to execute an art-project in Jenin. Two things were clear to me: as someone coming from Germany with the worst imaginable history and recent past – infected deeply by this very conflict – I could only be “one-sided” in the favour of justice. Developing a project under such conditions, an artist has to be linked closely to the people and their public space. To present studio-work to the public was not an option. But an art-project that reclaimed public space and reopened it for social and cultural development seemed far more appropriate. When we toured the horse along the West bank through about two dozens checkpoints – it was amazing how the charm of the arts opened the gates. Soldiers were amused. Jenin kids were able to travel as far as Ramallah for the first time in their life!

From Philagrafika 2010

Born Stuttgart, Germany, 1956. Lives and works in Berlin. Kilpper studied Fine Arts at the Staatliche Kunstakademie in Nuernberg, Duesseldorf and Frankfurt am Main. In 2000, he created a monumental woodcut and installation at the Orbit House in London, entitled The Ring. Kilpper is internationally renowned for his use of architectural scale woodcut methods to transform historical buildings and spaces.


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