Khaled Jarrar 'Dis-/Obey' at the Helsinki Festival 2014
August 2014
Commissioned by Checkpoint Helsinki as part of Helsinki Festival, Khaled Jarrar’s Dis-/Obey saw 50 volunteers participate in a large-scale performative artwork led by the artist. Using his experience as a former bodyguard of President Arafat of the PLO, Jarrar trained the volunteers to march in military formation through the streets of Helsinki. Passing through the central streets and thoroughfares, the march culminated at the focal point of Lasipalatsi Square. Here the artist gave the order for his platoon of volunteers to halt, facing an installation of 50 uniforms that hung in army formation by strings and pink hangers similarly to puppets hanging on a puppeteer’s string. Gradually the group began to leave one by one until only one solider remained, refusing to ‘disobey orders’. 
Questioning the military regimentation of the body, mass obedience and programmed behavior, while emphasizing the responsibility of the individual, and the case for resistance and civil or military disobedience, these questions are especially significant in conflict situations.