Cross Border Arts Project

The Cross Border Arts Project was developed as part of the Build a Bridge Campaign launched by the Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for the Dialogue between Cultures in the aftermath of the Israel-Lebanon war of summer 2006. The project aimed to use artistic expression to reflect the situation of a society coming out of a major conflict, and to encourage social engagement and dialogue through participation in cultural activities.

The first stage of the project took five artists from the Euro-Mediterranean region on a month-long tour of Lebanon, Israel and Palestine where they worked with local artists, writers and community groups.

In the second stage, the Art & Conflict Workshop and round table debate focused on the role of art and culture in conflict situations. Literature Across Frontiers cooperated on the Cross Border Arts Project with the Anna Lindh Foundation, Fondazione Pistoletto / Cittadellarte, Solidarité Laïque and Goethe Institut in Beirut.

In July 2007, four Euro-Mediterranean artists – Florence Aigner, photographer, Belgium; Said Ait El Moumen, dancer, Morocco; Isabel Andreu Roglà, video artist, Spain; Secil Yaylali, visual artist, Turkey – and their coach, Marianne Cosserat, Belgium/France, began a month-long journey to one of the most difficult conflict areas in the world.

While humanitarian aid to war-stricken areas generally attempts to meet material needs, our campaign focused on a different kind of reconstruction, using artistic expression to reflect the situation of a society coming out of a major conflict. It also aimed to encourage social engagement, and to bring psychological relief.

In each country the four Euro-Mediterranean Artists worked with local artists and set up workshops with local youth and communities affected by the military operations in the area. The activities in the three locations were coordinated by the Goethe-Institut Beirut in Lebanon, Oranim Academic College of Education in Galilee, Israel, and General Union of Cultural Centres in Gaza, Palestine.

The project raised several important questions about the aim and purpose of art projects in areas of conflict. You can read an in-depth analysis of the lessons learnt in this project, with reports from the organisers and participants as well as photographs of the art that was produced, in the publication: Art & Conflict: a Cross-border Arts project (pdf).