Berlin Art@Site Youth Centre Aida The Key of Return

Youth Centre Aida


The Key of Return

Berlin Biennale Hamburger Bahnhof 7
Palestinians use a crane to load"The Key of Return", which will be exhibited at the seventh Berlin Biennale, during a departure ceremony for the key at the Aida refugee camp near the West Bank city of Bethlehem on March 12, 2012. The iron Key of Return is considered a national symbol for Palestinains who lost their homes in 1948 when the Jewish state of Israel was created.
Key of Return; probably the biggest key in the world
When the Palestinian refugees of 1948 and 1967 left their homes, they took their keys with them in the belief that their return was imminent. More than sixty years have passed, and their numbers have multiplied to around five million in Palestine, the Middle East, and beyond. The keys have been passed on from generation to generation as a keepsake—as a memory of their lost homes and as lasting symbols of their desired"right of return."
In 2008, the residents of the Aida Refugee Camp near Bethlehem collaboratively produced what is said to be the largest key in the world (its makers have even attempted to gain this official title from Guinness World Records). The key, weighing close to one ton and measuring around nine meters in length, was made of steel and installed at the entrance of the camp as critical manifestation of nonviolent expression and a means of overcoming victim portrayals.
The 7th Berlin Biennale entered into dialogue with the Aida Refugee Camp community, arranging to borrow the sculpture and bring it to Berlin for the duration of the Biennale. The key travels thousands of miles across land and sea to Germany, to bring to the foreground the question of the return of the refugees and to critically thematize future perspectives. Workshops with Palestinian youths in Berlin and the Aida Refugee Camp aim at discussing issues of homeland, memory, and contemporary identity in light of the past and present. Accompanying public discussions seek to contribute towards a constructive social development by questioning collective artistic production and narratives.

Key of Return in Berlin; a talk with Khaled Hourani, Samah Jabr, Toleen Touq
A public talk about the journey of the Key of Return from the Aida Refugee Camp near Bethlehem to Berlin, and the possible meanings of this journey.
In collaboration with the Young Curators Workshop Curating in Times of Need.
Thanks to our Palestinian partners –Toleen Touq, Khaled Hourrani, and the community of the Aida Refugee Camp– brought to our attention the existence of the Key of Return as a meaningful social sculpture, as a manifestation of a non-violent political struggle, as a stance taken by a community of the refugee camp, a group of non-artists engaged in doing art. The key traveled to Berlin to be exhibited alongside with many other works by artists from the region (i.e. Khaled Jarrar, Yael Bartana, David Reeb) who create parallel political narrations and establish normality and political representation through art. The key finally is an outcome of citizens’ art: present not in the galleries but rather in civil disobedience, politics, politics of memory, or educational activities seen as the worse kind of art. The talk will present the original context of the key, the different narrations stemming from its travel and its artistic (mirroring the ‘Picasso in Palestine’ project), social, and political contexts.
Toleen Touq – co-curator of the project will reflect on the context, terms, and production of the action and will engage in a conversation with Khaled Hourani, Director of International Academy of Art Palestinein Ramallah, and Samah Jabr, a Palestinian psychiatrist working in the West Bank.