Where can you speak with 100 experts one-on-one for 30 minutes and learn about an array of issues, from sex trafficking and identity formation to urbanism, religion and spirituality? At the Black Market; an event which took place in Jaffa on September 26th, 2009. The original idea came from German creator Hannah Hurtzig, who attempted to create a space which deconstructs the way the Capitalist system distributes knowledge.
At the event’s entrance, people in line waited to purchase time with an expert (5 NIS for half an hour). Experts were separated into categories of invisible knowledge, unknown knowledge, ghostly knowledge and other knowledge – to understand more, click here.
Inside, the large gymnasium was transformed into an alternate universe. There were 30 tables placed on the floor, with a single dim light bulb dangling above each, where expert and client were to sit, creating a calm but sort of eerie atmosphere. At the edge of the row of tables was a large gong illuminated by a bright light. The gong rang to signal the end and beginning of each 30 min. round.
In addition to this impressive set-up, organizers also offered free head-sets with 6 frequencies, broadcasting live interviews and meetings taking place with some of the experts. Some experts to note were Scandar Copti, a local Jaffa resident and independent director, editor, writer and actor, whose recent film about the rough Jaffa neighborhood entitled ‘Ajami’ was just released in theatres. Also, Sadaka’s very own project coordinator Hana Amouri was there to provide consulting on an array of topics.
But the most unique element of the event was the ‘Second Hand Knowledge’ tent run by Sadaka’s ‘Community in Action’ members. Set up next to the main building among trees, with pillows and decorated sheets enclosing the area, they created an alternative space to the large and rigidly organized Black Market. In preparation for this event, the members chose a topic of interest to them and did some intensive research on it. They then each met with an expert prior to the event to further prepare themselves to relay this ‘second hand knowledge’ to visitors in the tent. This was important because they were relaying not just facts, but opinions of the experts they chose and thus had to make sure they were presenting the information the way the expert would.
Unlike the formal setting of the Black Market, at the Second Hand Knowledge tent it was a relaxing and casual atmosphere. Therefore, if one stumbled into the tent, they could feel comfortable amongst its café-like atmosphere with Nargilas bubbling and free hot Turkish coffee, as people sat in clumps on the pillowy floor. Over the course of the event, a certain mood developed in the tent, where the tent became a space for people to relax and generate discussion. People began sitting in groups and talking about everything from politics to pop culture, making the tent a popular spot to hang out and meet interesting new people from all over. The Second Hand Knowledge tent constantly had people coming in and out, proving to be a success and a useful addition to the Black Market.
Palestinian member Ibrahim Abed ElDayyem, from East Jerusalem, had this to say about the experience: “I had a lot of fun talking with people. Because I didn’t choose a specific topic, I was able to answer people’s personal questions about my life as a Palestinian Muslim in Israel and issues of the occupation. I enjoyed the overall experience and met some great people.”