Ett försök att förstå / An attempt to understand
(2001 - 2003)
Post-it notes

This project sees as its point of departure an ongoing work that I have been involved in since September 2001. The project deals with the role played by personal and subjective perception in history description. In the project, I am working with two parallel processes where personal memories from my own life are superimposed onto a process within world history, the Palestine-Israel conflict, thus creating a joint chronological map. The project springs out of the simple will to try to understand and find a context in each of these separate issues, in addition to inserting my own persona in a politico-historical process as a way of highlighting the importance of the personal references in history writing.

My work is an attempt to on my own arrive at the history and origin of the Palestine-Israel conflict through simultaneously studying a number of different sources - Arab, Jewish, American etc - and singling out the single events and occurrences that I believe have been crucial to the development of the conflict. By comparing the history versions supplied by the different sources (small nuances in describing an event can lead to a completely different perception of a historical development) and taking all sides into consideration, my intention is to arrive at as multifaceted picture as possible. I then write down my choices of singularly important events on Post-It stickers of different colours, where the colours represent the different sources where I have fetched the information. Using these stickers, I then create a chronological map of sorts.

In parallel with the Middle East work, I have undertaken a memory work, where I go back into my memory, trying to locate individual events and choices made by me and that have been important for the development of my life. I also write down these events on Post-it stickers and use them for constructing a map. I have then made this map a part of the Palestine-Israel map.

Thus, my own memories and experiences are put on an equal basis with important events in world politics. The subjectivity of the different parties' description of the conflict is made concrete through the direct connection to my very personal interventions. The quick, hand-written notes on the stickers thus become proof of that everything included in the map has been filtered through me; that the memories and the history have been distorted through my reading and re-writing. By selecting both sources and important events according to my own perception, the Palestine-Israel stickers become as subjective as those concerning my own life.

The work generates a multi-coloured, approximately chronological map, a cluster in constant change with regard to size and hue, depending on the continuation of history and how much information I am able to find, read and select for inclusion from the different sources. The map becomes an organism in constant movement, a murmur of hundreds of voices. If I as a spectator am careful and ambitious, I will be able to follow the different parties' points of view and history versions through the colours of the stickers. However, if I lose my concentration, even for only a short moment, everything is blurred into a single mass of information, a non-apprehensible illustration of a growing knowledge base, where the own, private life takes as much space as a historical course of events, spanning over several thousand years.

Johan Thufjell 2002

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