Art Radar takes a look at the Palestinian Museum’s ambitious inaugural group exhibition “Jerusalem Lives”.

“Jerusalem Lives” at the Palestinian Museum looks at the relationship between a gloablised world and media and life in the city of Jerusalem. 

Rafa Al Nasiri, 'Palestine: A Homeland Denied', 1979. Image courtesy The Palestine Poster Project.

Rafa Al Nasiri, ‘Palestine: A Homeland Denied’, 1979. Image courtesy The Palestine Poster Project.

As quoted in Aljazeera, exhibition curator Reem Fadda stated:

We are told to look at a city from its cultural, economic, political, ideological and environmental perspectives. That’s the methodology that I used to look at the city and examine how this globalisation, this universalist phenomenon, has failed.

Among the artists participating, in addition to the ones profiled below, are:

Art Radar highlights six stand-out works in the exhibition.

Mona Hatoum, 'Present Tense', 1996, Soap and glass beads 4.5 x 299 x 241 cm. Installation view at Gallery Anadiel, Jerusalem. Photo credit: Issa Freij. Image courtesy the artist and Gallery Anadiel, Jerusalem.

Mona Hatoum, ‘Present Tense’, 1996, soap and glass beads, 4.5 x 299 x 241 cm. Installation view at Gallery Anadiel, Jerusalem. Photo: Issa Freij. Image courtesy the artist and Gallery Anadiel, Jerusalem.

Mona Hatoum, 'Present Tense', 1996, Soap and glass beads 4.5 x 299 x 241 cm. Installation view at Gallery Anadiel, Jerusalem. Photo credit: Issa Freij. Image courtesy the artist and Gallery Anadiel, Jerusalem.

Mona Hatoum, ‘Present Tense’, 1996, soap and glass beads, 4.5 x 299 x 241 cm. Installation view at Gallery Anadiel, Jerusalem. Photo: Issa Freij. Image courtesy the artist and Gallery Anadiel, Jerusalem.

1. Mona Hatoum — Present Tense (2008)

Lebanese-born Palestinian artist Mona Hatoum‘s work Present Tense (2008) departs from her own encounter with a copy of the controversial Oslo Accords Map, infamously signed by Yasser Arafat in 1993, which she found hanging on the wall in a colleague’s office. She decided to make her own version of the map using 2,200 bars of Nablus soap. The bars of soap are extremely vulnerable to temperature and humidity, and degrade very quickly in the gallery environment, showing beads of “sweat” that smudge the image of the map inscribed above. The choice of material reflects the artist’s critique of the clear unsustainability of the Accords, which effectively organised the Palestinian population into controllable ghettos of the city where they could be subjected to surveillance and disciplining. The work is spread across an entire area of the main exhibition’s floor.

Palestinian Museum, the site of the sound installation 'Untitled (Servees)' (2017) by Emily Jacir.

Emily Jacir, ‘Untitled (Servees)’, 2008, sound installation at the Palestinian Museum. Image courtesy The Palestinian Museum.

2. Emily Jacir — Untitled (Servees) (2008)

Emily Jacir‘s sound installation Untitled (Servees) (2008) explores one of the key themes of the exhibition “Jerusalem Lives”: the increasing isolation of the city, whose connectivity to the rest of the world has been constrained since it was occupied by Israel in 1967. The artist has placed loud speakers that amplify a series of voices across the museum car park. The voices are taxi drivers asked by Jacir to recreate the emotion they had to take clients across cities of Palestine and beyond, before the controls were put into place. The taxi drivers recount their memories of a free time when one could drive from Lyd to Ramle to Ramallah and even to Damascus and Beirut without controls. The effect is a chaotic urban soundscape as people shout the names of cities that Palestinian citizens can no longer easily access.

Oscar Murillo, 'the institute of reconciliation' (assistants preparation of the installation), 2012–ongoing Mixed media installation Dimensions variable. Image courtesy the artist.

Oscar Murillo, ‘Institute of Reconciliation’ (assistants’ preparation of the installation), 2012–ongoing, mixed media installation, dimensions variable. Image courtesy the artist.

6. Oscar Murillo — Institute of Reconciliation (2016-ongoing)

Colombia-born, London-based Oscar Murillo had a very steep rise to fame. Having recently graduated from studies at the Royal Collage of Art in London, during which he also worked as a cleaner to support his artistic career, his expressive, scratchy and scrawled paintings began to fetch six figure sums in 2013 opening the doors to exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art and the 56th Venice Biennale. At the Palestinian Museum Murillo has created an installation of heavy, sewn and torn black canvases, painted with black oil paint. They construct a sprawling installation that hangs on lines or drape on steel. The installation, entitled Institute of Reconciliation (2016-ongoing), is the Jerusalem iteration of a work that has taken place across various sites. To complete the work, Murillo shipped canvas and black oil paints to Palestine and established collaborations with cultural institutions in Jerusalem, such as the Silwan Club and the African Community Center. The work reflects on histories of labour, trade, community, consumption and art.

Rebecca Close

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“Jerusalem Lives (Tahya Al Quds)” is on view from 27 August 2017 to 31 January 2018 at the Palestinian Museum, Museum Street (off Omar Ibn Al-Khattab Street), PO Box 48, Birzeit, Palestine.

Related Topics: Palestinian artists, site-specific installation, political, identity art, events in Palestine

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Brittney

By Brittney

Brittney is a writer, curator and contemporary art gallerist. Born in Singapore and based in New York City, Brittney maintains a deep interest in the contemporary art landscape of Southeast Asia. This is combined with an equally strong interest in contemporary art from the Asian diasporas, alongside the issues of identity, transmigration and global relations.

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