Governmental documents serve the explicit correlation of identity and affiliation. Palestinian artist Khaled Jarrar uses these attributes as samples for alternative models of identity and anticipates the existence of a state, which until now is mere utopia. He created a stamp with which he stamps passports of travelers and pedestrians in Ramallah, Berlin, Paris and other cities since 2011. About 240 participants carry a stamp of the State of Palestine in their passport until this day challenging the Israeli border regime. Jarrar undertook his first stamping action at the central bus station in Ramallah for people arriving from the checkpoints. When he goes abroad, he uses any occasion to mark people’s passports and thereby develops a campaign based on nonviolent resistance. These stamps represent a sovereign independent country and opposition to the violent fragmentation of the Palestinian territory. Those who agree to have the stamp put into their documents sustain claims for Palestinian sovereignty and perform an individual political coming out which defines one’s position.
A community of supporters grows. Official documents become a manifestation of citizen’s disobedience. And if you have a stamp, you might run into trouble: your entrance to Israel might be denied by border control at the Ben Gurion checkpoint, or you might be sent back to your country of origin. We even know of Israeli passports that have been cancelled due to the unauthorized stamp. Together with the 7th Berlin Biennale, Jarrar also produces postage stamps from Deutsche Post, which have a Palestine Sunbird and the inscription “State of Palestine” printed on them. Over 20,000 have been made so far. Used on letters and postcards, they have circulated worldwide.
Jarrar’s passport and postage stamps tell the story of a state-to-be. But reality goes against him and other Palestinians. Instead of continuing again and again the discussion about a one- or two-state solution, using these stamps is a simple gesture that helps to create normality. Text by Artur Żmijewski and Joanna Warsza