Theblacksac narrates the struggle for freedom of movement in the constricted livelihood in Palestine. Thousands of Palestinians have to cross military checkpoints on a daily basis, to perform their activities or access basic health and education services. The checkpoints are erected by the Israeli military occupation, and are purposely designed to make people wait in cramped lines inside ‘hi-tech’ cages to prepare their identification cards for inspection, to remove metallic items from their bags and go through demeaning ‘security’ checks.
The design of this handmade leather bag reflects the disproportionate and oppressive dimension of this experience. Through the extra handle on the bottom, one can swiftly turn the bag and access the external pockets. These have different sizes and shapes to store items before the bag enters the X-ray scanner.
Theblacksac does not simply adapt or surrender to this reality; rather, it challenges it by empowering the carrier and making people understand what Palestinians have to go through on a daily basis. The bag reflects on a life that is strife with challenges and checkpoints, the main goal is storytelling. It becomes a design charged with meaning, claiming the right to freedom of movement and return to the homeland.
- This bag was originally designed during the create-shop 2015 in Jerusalem, of which you can find the report here. The bag is produced in Al-Khalil (Hebron) byJelld Workshop; watch them crafting the checkpoint bag here. In 2021, architect and designer Areej Ashhab initiated her own design label called the Blacksac. The bag was featured in this article Grant Gibson reviews the Checkpoint Bag by Disarming Design From Palestine, Grant Gibson, OnOffice Magazine, 8 December 2017 and A Bag with Baggage, by Sindhu Nair, Scale, 22 September 2021
- Areej Ashhab (PS)
Areej is an artist and designer based in Jerusalem, currently studying at Bezel Academy of Art and Design. “Actually I think that Palestinians are always afraid of doing things they think they are forbidden to do. They think they are forbidden of most of the things, as a state of mind, then it comes out that actually nobody cares. This is something that we as Palestinians must change in our mindset. You can’t live being always scared and nervous. We have to start to make things, being confident about ourselves, our projects and desires.”
- Monika Grütze (LV)
Monika is a Latvian designer based is Amsterdam currently studying at the Think Tank for Visual Strategies master program of the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam.
- Florian Mecklenburg (DE)
- Jelld workshop (Hebron, PS)
JELLD is committed to produce handmade leather products in Palestine.
Palestinian bovine leather (mainly sheep-leather and some parts from cow-leather), with metal zippers, and an extra cushioned back
37 x 28 cm