The Jerusalem Show VIII opens at Al-Ma’mal Foundation for Contemporary Art during Palestine’s biennale Qalandiya International.
Themed “Before and After Origins”, the eighth Jerusalem Show is located in two venues – the Old City in Jerusalem and a refugee camp beyond the Separation Wall – representative of the geographical split of before and after 1948’s naqbah.
The Palestinian biennale Qalandiya International’s Gaza opening addresses the geopolitical complexity of Gaza and the Middle East as a whole. The 2016 theme “This Sea is Mine” takes inspiration from lines written by the late Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish:
And history makes fun of its victims/And its heroes/Takes a look at them and passes by/This sea is mine.
Responding to this year’s theme, the Al-Ma’mal Foundation for Contemporary Art has adopted the theme “Before and After Origins” for the eighth edition of its Jerusalem Show. This year’s Jerusalem Show is curated by Vivian Zherl, an Australian independent curator, researcher, and critic whose curatorial project for Al-Ma’mal furthers her research for Frontier Imaginaries, a research project that examines settler colonialism.
The show will span two venues, a diversion from previous years’ editions. The first is located in the Old City of Jerusalem and is in the building of the former tile factory of Al Ma’mal, and the second venue is the Youth Center of the Shuafat Refugee Camp, four kilometres to the north of the Old City. The camp is populated by over 50,000 Palestinian refugees and lies behind the Separation Wall that divides the West Bank from east Jerusalem.
These geographies attend to the idea of before and after, with 1948’s naqbah, the mass exodus of Palestinians from their homes during the 1948 Palestine war, as the precipitating even that demarcates the two portions of the exhibition. Over a dozen artists from more than five countries are represented in “Before and After Origins”, and their works respond to both the history and the promise of the region’s artistic milieu.
Art Radar highlights the work of five of the artists participating in the Jerusalem Show VIII, which runs from 6 to 31 October 2016.
At the site of Al-Ma’mal’s former tile factory, the idea of ‘origins’ is put in quotation marks: what, specifically, do we mean when we interrogate the provenance of a work with respect to its people? How do we substantiate claims of authenticity, and what is the value of cultural stewardship? Tom Nicholson’s work for the 2016 Jerusalem Show, entitled Comparative Monument (Shellal), engages these questions by responding to the Shellal mosaic, a 6th century relic of Byzantine art that was discovered in the Naqab desert by Australian troops and is currently ensconced in the Australian War Memorial.
Nicholson’s prior series Comparative Monuments have addressed similar topics in the Gaza region, drawing connections to the legacy of settler colonialism in his native Australia. For the 2012 edition of the Jerusalem Show, “Gestures in Time”, Nicholson presented Comparative Monument (Palestine), in which stacked photographs of Australian monuments in Melbourne bearing the word “Palestine” are offered for visitors to take away, allowing the connecting line between Australia and Palestine to take material form. Shellal proposes that preservation and cultural stewardship bear traces of colonial legacy despite their practical intentions.
Tom Nicholson lives in Melbourne and is Lecturer in Drawing in the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture at Monash University, Melbourne. Nicholson’s work has been exhibited at the 2012 Adelaide Biennale, the 2010 Shanghai Biennale, and at institutions such as the Murmansk Art Museum, Russia and the Museum of Contemporary Art and Galeria Metropolitana in Chile. His solo shows include “Drawings and correspondence” (2011) at Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne and “Cartoons for Joseph Selleny” (2014) at Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney. He is represented by Milani Gallery in Brisbane.
Jawad al Malhi
The displacement of the thousands of Palestinians following the naqbah highlights the significance of the Shuafat Refugee Camp’s Youth Social Centre as a venue for interrogating the idea of ‘return’. Built in 1967, the camp is by technicality the sole Palestinian refugee camp within Jerusalem or any other Israeli administered locality. It is located behind the Separation Wall, thus functioning, in the context of the exhibition, as a liminal space between the geographic and the temporal.
Jawad al Malhi’s 2013-14 work Measures of Uncertainty is an ode to this liminality: massive portraits depicting the lives of the inhabitants of Shuafat, painted from hours of observation of the intricacies of life in the camp. Set against a minimal beige background, the figures distinguish themselves as individual evidences of the reality of displacement, but simultaneously cohere as a symbol of collective identity: the narrative of struggle supplants the individual lives that must bear it.
Jawad al Malhi is a Palestinian artist whose interdisciplinary work centres on the concept of marginality and its subjective impact on migrants. Al Malhi lives and works on the border of the Shuafat refugee camp, where he began sketching its inhabitants as a teenager. His exhibitions include “No Man’s Land?” at Gemak, the Hague, the 2009 Venice Biennale, and the 2009 Sharjah Biennial. He is the co-founder of Open Studio Palestine, which runs art workshops for youth, and for this year’s Jerusalem Show, he has opened his studio in Shuafat as an exhibition space and workshop area.
‘Return’ as a concept toggles between the notion of a fixed place and a journey taken. The prevailing statement that undergirds the Qalandiya Interntational’s theme of return supposes that the geographical homecoming will be met by an emotional, or perhaps spiritual one: this is where, after a struggle and journey away, one is supposed to be – a sense of belonging. Yazan Khalili’s performative work I, the Artist, extrapolates on the idea of belonging in terms of ownership of property.
I, the Artwork, made in collaboration with lawyer and consultant Martin Heller, details the stipulations for the ownership and exhibition of “The Artwork” on standard inkjet paper. Here, the conceptual is morphed to the transactional, the mythos of the artist is reduced to specific conditions, and the artwork itself becomes an entity capable of negotiation. Possession is taken to its logical, or rather, legal extreme, in a political environment where it is routinely contested.
Yazan Khalili graduated with a degree in architecture from Birzeit University in 2003 and completed a Masters from the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths, University of London in 2010. His solo shows include “On Love and Other Landscapes” at Mumbai Art Room (2015), “Regarding Distance” at EOA Projects, London (2014) and “Margins” at the Delfina Foundation (2008). His work has been acquired by the Sharjah Art Foundation, the British Museum and the Imperial War Museum, and he was a 2013 nominee for the Bellagio Award.
Through their often arbitrary imposition, lines of demarcation to define territory have a transitive psychic effect in the minds of those that occupy the territory: where one can and cannot go define the boundaries of one’s identity. Jumana Manna’s film A Magical Substance Flows Into Me (2015) moves beyond the rigidity of territorial definitions to examine the transcendence of borders through music.
Her films developed from a study of the ethnomusicologist Robert Lachmann, a German Jewish émigré to Palestine, whose study of Arabic music in the 1950s influenced Manna’s explorations into how identity is shaped and transformed through the maintenance and evolution of musical traditions. Manna, who grew up in Shuafat, traces the significance of the musical heritages of her home region, from Mizrahi to Arabic pop, in the formation of collective memory.
Jumana Manna is an American born Palestinian artist whose work, primarily in sculpture and film, has been screened at multiple international film festivals and exhibited in the group shows “Take Liberty!” at the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Norway (2014) and “Meeting Points” at the Museum of Modern Art, Antwerp (2013). Solo exhibitions by Manna include “Menace of Origins”, Sculpture Center, New York (2014) and “Untitled” at CRG Gallery, New York (2013). She completed her MA at CalArts and completed degrees at the Bezalel Academy for Arts and Design in Jerusalem and National Academy of the Arts, Oslo.
Wendelien van Oldenborgh
Dutch artist Wendelien van Oldenborgh addresses the themes of occupation and possession of land and property in her 2016 film Squat Anti-Squat, produced in association with Frontier Imaginaries with support from the Mondriaan Fund, Amsterdam and the DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program. Here, squatting – most often regarded as an urban nuisance – takes on a new valence, as the legal issues of squatting give way to the questions of identification and displacement for a global context. Through her film, the idea of returning to a land is complicated by inferring the possibility that any type of occupation necessarily turns the familiar to the foreign.
Wendelien van Oldenborgh is a Rotterdam based visual artist and filmmaker whose work considers how public life functions in our contemporary society. Her solo shows include “Lina Bo Bardi: The Didactic Room”, at the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven (2010) and she has presented at the 2010 São Paolo Biennal, the 2014 Kochi-Muziris Biennale, the 2009 Istanbul Biennale, and she will be representing Holland at the Dutch Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale in 2017. She was educated at Goldsmiths, University of London and is the recipient of the 2014 Heineken Prize for Art and the 2011 Hendrik Chabot Prize for Fine Arts.
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