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“Take a Seat”: Video Art by Nili Broyer and Ita Tal-Or October 21, 2010

Posted by jewishdisabilityunite in Jewish Thought, Society, Uncategorized.
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This thought-provoking video piece suggests that we view society as a game with rules fixed to the advantage of some and the disadvantage of others. Eitan Frier Dror interviewed Nili Broyer:

Where did the idea for this clip come from?
Around four years ago my sister asked if she could make a short film about me as part of her studies, and I refused. In films of this sort, the person with disabilities is always presented as a hero who has succeeded in spite of his problems, or else as an object of pity; this did not suit me. I suggested that she made a satirical film – a film that would touch on the subject of disability, but that would make a social statement; a film that could put a mirror up in front of society, and not specifically in front of me the individual. I had the idea of using the children’s game of musical chairs as the basis for the film.

You don’t like definitions and categorisations of different disabilities, and yet in the film you use them quite openly.
We used labelled people very openly in this film. We used terms that are common in society – ‘retarded’, ‘disabled’, ‘deaf’, ‘dwarf’, ‘blind’ – because I believe that we have to grapple with the most jarring and painful places. There is absolutely no shame in being a dwarf or a disabled person, and if we avoid using these words we communicate that they are shameful.

Why musical chairs?
The idea of the chair comes up where disability is being discussed. From my perspective the chair can be an object for people with disabilities even when it does not have wheels. For me a chair in a place is a relief; it carries the blessing of a break and a rest. Wherever I go I check whether there is a chair. And chairs have another meaning as well; the idea of taking a place in society, in life. ‘He’s sitting well’. Musical chairs is a game that every child plays in Israel; there is something innocent about it, but also something very violent.

For you then a chair is much more than a piece of furniture. You have an ambivalent relationship to chairs.
Yes. Chairs have an element of oppressing the body, of regulating us – ‘Don’t move’. For instance, there is a gender difference in the ways men and women are expected to carry their bodies. I believe there is a basic social expectation – we see it well in schools – that one must know how to sit in a chair in a particular way, must know how to control one’s body. People with disabilities fall down there – between the chairs.

The Film’s Opening Captions in English:
A retarded man / A healthy woman / A blind man / A dwarf / A disabled man in a wheelchair / Compete for their place / In a game not designed for them / The rules of the game can invalidate them or bring about their success / “Take a seat”

The original interview appears on the website of Beit Avi-Chai.


Home Again – Jessica Sacks October 12, 2010

Posted by jewishdisabilityunite in If you call this 'Normal'....
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I’m just back from three weeks back in England, hence the long silence on the site. Every journey from my current home in Israel, to my past home, my other home, where my parents are, requires at least a couple of weeks’ preparation for me, and when I’m there, everything is different. It’s like going back in time. It makes me admire the heroism of anyone who is unable to make the physical break for independence that I have made, and who manages to carve a life and identity for herself while still living ‘at home’.

It occurred to me that when I fly to England I say ‘I’m going home’, and when I return to Jerusalem I say the same thing. The word ‘home’ has two translations into Hebrew: ‘bayit’, as in ‘this is my home’; or ‘habayta’ as in ‘I am going home; I am going to-home’. Perhaps many of us don’t really have a home; only a ‘to-home’. But a ‘to-home’ is still much better than nothing. We have an idea in our mind of that place where ‘normal’ is exactly what we are. Where we can sit down, and whatever we have or haven’t done – we are ok. Just ok. We can picture in our minds what that would be like. And then we can think how to build it.

Anyway – now I’ve come ‘home’, back to Jerusalem, and my friends here, and my work, and the cat. And back to the site! It was exciting to come back and find that people have been coming into the site while we’ve been away, and hopefully finding things they’ve been looking for here. Now Chasiya and I will be looking out for interesting writing on Judaism and disability, translating materials from Hebrew and seeking out the most useful, fascinating and unusual links we can find online. If you have anything to say or add or suggest – please write to us! As always – info@googlemail.com . Wishing you all a Good and Sweet New Year!