Promise Land Refugees 04 is a Fashion & Culture collective based in Haifa, Israel, producing its own magazine, Mozaic, to share stories and interviews with local artists and initiatives, published in no less than 4 languages.
A bold and bright collective of curious minds, PLR04 was founded by four friends who are leading the way in reshaping the identity of their city. Confronting the barriers which exist in Israel, also known as Occupied Palestine, and establishing ways to join communities and cultures together through art, PLR04 is championing those who are part of this necessary Revolution (the theme of their magazine's first issue).
Sassy's own introduction to Haifa was a welcome whirlwind of artistic talent and we are proud to share and promote the people driving this surge of excellence. Particularly during this time when Haifa mourns one of their brightest stars, dancer Ayman Safiah.
As PLR04 explains "Throughout the publishing of the magazine, Haifa lost one of its artists, Ayman Safiah, to the sea. He was a bold icon of revolution, and we paid tribute to his great contribution to us as a society."
We asked PLR04 to talk us through their reasons for starting their collective and the motivation behind their quadrilingual publication.
What inspired you to build PLR04, and how would you describe the soul and spirit of your project?
We were inspired to build PLR04 by our want and need to have a creative space with no limits. Each of the founding members has had her fair share in putting together different initiatives, leading various projects and building local productions. We were inspired by each other and therefore put our powers together in order to reach our common goal. Haifa is one of our biggest inspirations, the beauty of its nature, and the operating souls in the city; we base our projects depending on which subjects we want to explore, or based on the artists we want to work with.
Our soul consists of fire and rain - we want to overtake any barriers in our way, spreading like wildfire, while in the hope that our initiative grows something new, leaving behind us fertile grounds, like damp soil after a rainy day. The spirit of the group is strengthened by the friendship at the core, making it at times more complex to work on the professional level, but easier to push our boundaries and put ourselves out there.
We want to overtake any barriers in our way, spreading like wildfire, while in the hope that our initiative grows something new, leaving behind us fertile grounds.
For those who aren’t familiar with Haifa, could you tell us about the city and how it has changed over time?
Haifa is positioned on a mountain called Carmel mountain which touches the shore of the Mediterranean sea. Mountain boars roam free and air pollution is high due to a large concentration of industrial establishments in the area. Good news - one of the infamous industrial factories collapsed a few weeks ago - don’t worry, no one was hurt.
Haifa peaks to find itself asleep again. Time moves differently here, it seems like nothing ever changes. Haifa’s residences vary, consisting of Jews, Palestinians, Russians and other minorities. Haifa is said to be a city of co-existence. We find this misleading since there are no co-operative governmental establishments proving so. We do all live in parallel though, using imaginary lines dividing the city, yet finding counterpoints which unite us (mainly shops and cafes and such). The spirit of Haifa is formed due to a mix of cultures and languages, through contradictions of identity and opinions, in between the stillness of the mountain and roaring of the Mediterranean Sea.
Photography by Amit Arad
The creative scene in Haifa, as we know it today, is relatively young. The flourishing of the city’s downtown embraced various initiatives and gave locals a new scene to explore. Before then, the city’s downtown was up for grabs - the culture and arts scene was vacant to the apparent eye. You only knew of its existence if you were a part of it. This was caused due to the lack of resources the city gave us. Each artist or entrepreneur had to create their projects on their own. This is also a reason why the city has witnessed so many zero-budget projects. It’s just the way things work. Nowadays, it’s a bit different. There are still no solid building blocks, but that doesn’t stop anyone.
You spotlight fashion as well as artists and individuals in PLR04; what dictates who you feature on your platform?
Our initial motivation was to create a fashion movement in Haifa. Soon enough, we understood that fashion goes hand in hand with culture and art, as they feed off of each other to create one another. Therefore, we broadened our horizons. The subjects we choose to explore have art at their core but are also cultural and political. We choose our material based on subjects we want to research and learn more about, or based on collaborations we want to create, and based on subjects we feel are important to bring into social discourse. All of our features are homemade, allowing the creatives behind PLR04 to come into the light to explore their creative selves.
PLR04 inspires a sense of liberated self-expression as well as critical analysis of social structures. What have you learnt through this process and what do you hope to inspire through the content and stories that you share?
We have learned so much through the duration of this project. About Haifa’s modern history, how entrepreneurs before us faced the barriers the city poses, we have met some of the city’s game changers up close and we have had the privilege of having intimate conversations with them. We are inspired by every step and achievement, elaborating PLR04’s circle every time. We have felt the kind-heartedness and generosity of the community every time we asked for help. We hope this greatness reflects in our final product of the magazine 'Mozaic', for those who, like us, are searching to find the answers they are looking for, whether on an individual or collective level. We hope to inspire the need to break the solid confines of society in order to reform our own social order. To bring back the importance of self-awareness and inner appreciation, without fear of the outside world. We hope that we will live up to these values, and that these valuable lessons are imprinted in our own consciousness as well.
We hope to inspire the need to break the solid confines of society in order to reform our own social order. To bring back the importance of self-awareness and inner appreciation, without fear of the outside world.
Your magazine, Mozaic, is presented in 4 different languages - Arabic, English, Hebrew and Russian. Could you talk us through the reasons for this and how others have responded to this inclusive form of communication?
The use of four languages allows us to blur the importance of any of them. Meaning we utilize the four in order to eliminate any sense of hierarchy between the languages and the readers. The use of English, Arabic, Russian and Hebrew covers a decent percentage of readers worldwide, allowing us to bring Haifa across the globe in an accessible fashion. More importantly, we have not categorized any of the languages as more important than the other. Our “cover” language is usually English, since it is the most common, but the rest are not of less importance. One day, soon enough, we will hopefully also include Amharic (the official language of Ethiopia) in the mix. Translating our pieces has been one of our biggest challenges. Mastering one language is hard enough… imagine four. Until now, we have received “are you crazy?!” responses in this regard, but in the most loving way. Step by step, the four languages are turning into one of our foundations.
The individuals building the collective of Promise Land Refugees are very different, yet somehow the same. Our personal identities reflect on the identity of the group and merge into one. As a fashion and art collective, we are inspired and influenced by what the city has to offer. This is a blessing and a curse, since our city is limited in terms of artistic opportunities. This is one of the reasons we decided to form PLR04 - our need for a forum that incorporates local artists.
Q: What does creativity mean to you? And do you feel it has a role in bringing greater awareness and empathy into societies?
Creativity is such a big word. If we break it down into pieces, we will find that divinity in human form is the fruit of our creativeness. As cheesy as it sounds, it’s true. Each of us has a pedestrian job and this project helps us bring in color. The sense of fulfillment after a day of writing, photographing, directing and managing a magazine all comes down to the creativity in between the lines. It’s what keeps us going. It is a privilege to let our souls roam free to bring to life whatever we want, literally, being bound only by our own imagination.
Writing, photographing, directing, and managing a magazine ...is what keeps us going. It is a privilege to let our souls roam free to bring to life whatever we want, literally, being bound only by our own imagination.
Our world consists of a complicated existence. The role of art, as we see it, is to explain this existence and simplify it. We hope our work is a form of serendipity, collaborating with different faces to form a piece much greater than our anticipation. It definitely has a role in bringing awareness into societies. We witnessed this in the different pieces in our first issue - revolution. We learned from Rasha Nahas that the soul’s force is much bigger than outside influences, and from George Nasser that the most dangerous form of tyranny to the spirit is social tyranny. Shahar Sivan taught us that human motion and gathering has much more impact than any governmental or municipal establishment, while the Broken Fingaz Crew reassured that hard work and believing in your goal gets you there through blood, sweat, and tears.
PLR04 are currently working on launching their second issue - Skin - consisting of five different pieces, and more than ten collaborations, to be launched during July.
You can stay tuned through their instagram @promiselandrefugees04
For more info contact them via email - firstname.lastname@example.org