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Qalandiya International builds bridges between Palestine and the Diaspora

Press Release
Jack Persekian:Qalandiya International launches from Haifa, Gaza and the Diaspora

Haifa, 6 October 2016 – Qalandiya International launched its third edition “This Sea is Mine” in an inaugural ceremony in Haifa and simultaneously in Gaza, Beirut, Amman and London.

Qalandiya International kicked off with the following exhibition openings: ‘The People of The Sea’, organized by The Arab Culture Association in Haifa; ‘This Sea is Mine’ organized by Eltiqa Group & Shababek for Contemporary Art in Gaza; ‘Sea of Stories’, organized by Dar El-Nimer for Arts and Culture in Beirut; ‘This Sea is Mine’ organized by Darat al Funun-The Khalid Shoman Foundation in Amman; and ‘Moments of Possibilities: Air, Land & Sea’, organized by Palestine Regeneration Team (PART) in London.

Director of Al-Ma’mal Foundation for Contemporary Art in Jerusalem, Jack Persekian, gave the opening remarks on behalf of Qalandiya International’s consortium that were live-streamed to Gaza, Beirut, Amman and London. He said, “This year, Qalandiya International built bridges between Palestine and the diaspora, overcoming many barriers and the separation that divides Palestinians. This is unprecedented and commendable.”

He added that “Qalandiya International was founded in 2012 with the conviction that collaborative and correlative work can increase the power and effectiveness of cultural organizations, after the realization that working alone in a divided and separated environment has its limitations, especially with a shrinking space and limited funding.”

Regarding the topic of ‘return’ in “This Sea is Mine”, Mr. Persekian said “we have to look deeper into the issue of Palestinian ‘return’, the ramifications of which we live with everyday, and that has become all about political slogans which intensify each May 15 and then dwindle the rest of the year. And here is where we see our role as cultural institutions, with our mission of elevating the discourse about an eventual return, suggesting return as an alternative to the Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe). Because the idea of return is not only about return to “before the Nakba” but rather about returning through our attitude to heal and fix that rupture in our collective and personal histories. Our return begins when we can stop looking at the Nakba as tragedy and defeat, and instead view it as a project on which to build, based on a clear vision of liberation and independence.”

And about “This Sea is Mine”, Mr. Persekian added, “we wanted to go back to an essential place of our homeland and to an understanding of our return, and to give it a new perspective. And who better than our poet Mahmoud Darwish to elaborate on our collective ambitions.” He concluded by adding that he hoped Qalandiya International will be a chance to think and contemplate the Palestinian return and be a step in that direction.

Through a recorded message, Palestinian Minister of Culture Ihab Bseiso said he was very proud of Qalandiya International and that he viewed it as an important landmark in Palestinian cultural life and a way of resistance through art and culture.

Qalandiya International will run until 31 October with 15 exhibitions and over 60 events in Palestine and 20 in the diaspora.

For more information, please call 054.250.0672 or email