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Panicutopia - Hidden spheres

Gali Blay

Stories from Gaza: the in-between world of fiction of Gali Blay

Born in New York and raised in Israel, Gali Blay - now based in Berlin - focuses her practice on the intersection of documentary storytelling and speculative design. She received a BFA degree from Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem, where she developed her fascination to animation and model building fabrication, building imaginative spaces in order to photograph them. She later received a MFA degree (cum laude) in Social Design at Design Academy Eindhoven in the Netherlands, where she created "News Channel", together with François Bonnot and Deborah Janssens.
She researches the in-between world of fiction and reality created by images and designs speculative scenarios, using storytelling in order to tackle complex political structures, and investigate how their power influences different narratives developing in the society.

The recent years showed an unprecedented use of contemporary measures for safety and a rise of social and community isolation (such as in the Trump's US on the border with Mexico and with the United Kingdom's Brexit). However, "contemporary acts for safety that turn into acts of isolation, do not come from decision makers only – they are social phenomena that rise from society", reflects Gali Blay, "To better understand this, I have chosen to take a closer look at a country in which I grew up, and in which the debate on safety has been present for decades: Israel and the occupied territories of Palestine".

Panicutopia, now presented on The Architecture Player, is a trailer created to present the concept and find further collaborators and funding to create a full length, which addresses this very issue: taking place in the imaginative worlds of inhabitants in Gaza and in the Gaza envelope area extending a few miles outside the fenced-in borders of the Gaza Strip, this stop-motion animation documentary leads us in a investigating the space through the hidden experiences of its inhabitants. Gali, who still is looking for people to collaborate with to work on the movie, created the trailer with May Abadi Grebler and Animas-film Berlin.

In the trailer we hear the voices of people we are not able to see: their experiences fill the gap between our imaginary of Gaza and its reality, "HF, a Palestinian social worker from Gaza City, where the inhabitants are allowed only four hours of electricity during the day, chooses to use these hours to watch reruns of Tom and Jerry cartoons with his two children. Yifat, an Israeli nurse who lives in Kibbutz Erez (1.4 km from Gaza), chooses to see the green hills right next to her home, instead of looking beyond it and across the borderline at Gaza", explains Gali, adding that the film will explore the hidden forces of the human defense mechanisms of the inhabitants of these areas. The characters will reveal to the viewer their deepest fears alongside their greatest fantasies and how they help them create a reality they can survive in.

Panicutopia's main effort is to present a visualization inspired by the encounters Gali had with the protagonists behind the film, the people who live in Gaza and in the Gaza envelope area, reflecting the inner and fantastic world of the characters. The film will present a timeline showing the development of human existence in these specific areas, which are under constant threat of violent physical and psychological attacks, bringing the dissonance that exists among the residents of the two areas, and find affinity and resemblance to the person who lives on the other side of the fence.

Speaking of her use of animation in storytelling, Gali Blay explains how she is constantly developing her technique of model building to become highly meticulous and accurate in order to create the best resolution for my animated stories. "In my animation practice I build hyper detailed scaled models. I use this method in order to examine how the use of seductive tactility can invite the viewers to become active in the tangible story by stimulating their imagination and tactile senses in their own reality. My imaginative view on the world and its fantasies can best be expressed by the exciting animated world".

"Fictional, reality-based scenarios invite viewers to become active in tangible stories by stimulating their imagination. This approach has the power to not only open up new perspectives for everyone involved, but also to create new, constructive discourse".

(Story by Sara Marzullo, The Architecture Player)


Director and cinematographer: May Abadi Grebler
Animation: Animas-film Berlin (Alberto Couceiro, Alejandra Tomei, Raffaele Acquaviva, Nicole Albersold)
Production designer: Gali Blay
Music: Nils Frahm

Germany 2018
Duration: 3'14"