Mahmoud Darwish and the Barrier

About a week ago Rachael and I went back to the Qalandia checkpoint, the checkpoint separating Jerusalem and Ramallah. The Palestinian side of the barrier is covered with graffiti as far as one can see, and so we thought we’d add something to it. Most of the graffiti is the most cliche, boring crap you would expect: “This wall will fall!” “Frei Palestina!” “Miener Schlieben Mit Gevünktenlinmustrassers Berlin!” and so on. I wanted to put something up that had no relationship to the wall, the situation, occupation, Berlin, South Africa or anything else. I chose a piece of poetry by Mahmoud Darwish (which was the most political aspect of the whole project, given he’s the Palestinian poet laureate) and some stencils for a background. I also chose not to put an English translation anywhere. The poem I chose reads:

القصيدة تبعد عني,

وتدخل ميناء بحارة يعشقون النبيذ

ولا يرجعون إلى امرأة مرتين,

ولا يحملون حنينا إلى أي شيء

ولا شجنا

محمود درويش

“The poem drifts away from me
It enters a port of sailors who love wine,
And never return to the same woman twice,
And feel nostalgia for nothing,
Nor sorrow, either.”

All photos are by Rachael Strecher.

First, I wrote the poem out with a reed pen and China ink, and then cut the words out of the paper:


Then I primed the wall with gesso:


First layer of stencil in beige:



Second layer in red:



Border with square stencil:



Done spraying:



Time to add the words. I brush a layer of clear gel sealant onto the wall, put the word on, and then paint a second layer of sealant over top of it.




Add the dots:






~ by Josh on March 1, 2009.

11 Responses to “Mahmoud Darwish and the Barrier”

  1. It looks absolutely beautiful. Could you post more photos of other graffiti, especially anything you like?

  2. wow!! amazing work, just fab

  3. BAMF

  4. Beautiful work Josh!

  5. That’s cool like it a lot !!!

  6. OMG
    I am speechless!!!

  7. that looks really awesome, great poem too.. I’d like to see you paint up a poem freehand one day. What do you think?

  8. so amazing work

  9. very beautiful

  10. veryy bueatiful indeed

  11. oh waaaouww!!! mach Allah! beautifull work amazing!

    Can you tell me where to buy those stencils please? …

    Very beautifull…

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