Art Palestine International is a New York-based cultural organization dedicated to Palestinian contemporary art. We collaborate with museums, galleries, and non-profits to produce art exhibitions, events, and publications.

This blog is a research tool that allows us to chart our research and invite others along on the journey.

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Shadi Habib Allah – The King and the Jester

Shadi Habib Allah, “The King and the Jester,” Single-channel video, 2010

File this blog post under ‘better late than never’: Shadi Habib Allah’s solo exhibition at Reena Spaulings last fall was given a glowing writeup in the New Yorker: “a lyrical vérité video by a young Palestinian artist about, of all things, a Miami auto-body shop…Habib Allah trails his subjects with a fly-on-the-wall, gimlet-eyed humanism worthy of Frederick Wiseman, unearthing significance in the humdrum incidents of the everyday.”

Young Artists at Birzeit

Inass Yassin and Vera Tamari, directors at Birzeit Museum

During my recent trip to Ramallah, I visited the Ethnographic & Art Museum, a pioneering art space which (along with the online site The Virtual Gallery) promotes arts within the Palestinian community at Birzeit University.

Despite Birzeit’s lack of an art department, it maintains an active and interested student and neighborhood attendance. The director and former director, Inass Yassin and Vera Tamari respectively, gave me a tour of the current exhibition (curated by Yassin) which includes the following young Palestinian artists:

Salama Safadi, Abdullah Al Ruzzi, Ayed Arafah, Dina Matar, Edward Salem, Shada Safadi, Mirna Bamieh, Randa Maddaah, the Arabic class at Al Fataah School, Yazan Khalili, Mohammad Hawajiri, Ahmad and Mohammad Nasser, and Inas Halabi, and Jumana Manna.

Download a pdf brochure of the exhibition here

How to Get a Green Card

During my recent visit to Ramallah, I had the opportunity to visit The International Academy of Art Palestine (PACA). Director Tina Sherwell explained Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ generous funding of the organization, which was inspired by the Oslo Agreement of 1994.  Also backed by the Arab bank Al-Bireh, PACA is a thriving organization that houses 32 art students from all over the world.

During a tour of the studios, Khaled Jarrar offered me a postcard of his work titled “How to Get a Green Card”, which seemed to capture the spirit of the artists at the academy.

Spring in Jerusalem

I recently got back from a visit to Ramallah and Jerusalem, where I had a chance to visit old friends and make new ones. I’ll be uploading some details about my trip and the art I experienced in Palestine over the next few days.

At The Table: Sharif Waked’s “Khumus”

[Sharif Waked, Khumus (2008). Image from artist's archive]

Sherene Seikaly recently wrote a beautiful article about Sharif Waked’s outdoor installation at a Palestinian restaurant (pictured above):

Just outside a Palestinian restaurant, named “al-Bayt” in the recently recognized village of Ayn Hawd southeast of Haifa, a table and two chairs stand precariously balanced on a steep slope. From a distance it is a pretty scene that promises the serenity of a picnic. On closer look, there is deformity and fragility. Together they offer an incisive reflection on those many moments when the Palestinian everyday in Israel meets the persistent apprehension and restlessness of memory. Sharif Waked’s installation Khumus tells of the inextricability of two communions—one that is untenable in the present and another in the past that has been made absent.

Read the full article on

Ruba Salameh: “OUT OF PLACE” at Al-Ma’mal Foundation

2nd March -1st April 2011

Shattering the boundaries of collective thought as a necessary process to the journey of the soul into self-consciousness, Out of Place presents selected paintings created in the past few years in which I dealt with questions of identity, the need for identity in society, and the connection between the individual and the collective.

Out of Place is originally the title of Edward Said’s autobiography; the exhibition is a tribute of his work and memory. – Ruba Salameh

Al-Ma’mal Foundation for Contemporary Art

New Gate, Old City, Box 14644, Jerusalem, 91145

Taysir Batniji

Taysir Batniji, ‘Suspended Time’

Taysir Batniji’s Suspended Time (2006) was on view last weekend at the Armory show at Sfeir – Semler’s booth. Photo via ArtAsiaPacific.

Museum Plans Bloom on Saadiyat Island

According to Peter Aspden writing  in February 18′s issue of  Financial Times, Saadiyat Island (just 500m off the coast of Abu Dhabi City) is “hurtling towards the future”. Thanks to Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon al-Nahyan, museum development plans on the island are redefining Abu Dhabi’s place  in the world of culture.

The island will soon host a new Guggenheim Museum, to be designed by Frank Gehry, which will focus on Arabic, Islamic and other Middle Eastern art in the context of developments over the last 100 years. The new Louvre Abu Dhabi, designed by Jean Nouvel, will be a world museum, borrowing pieces from its parent in Paris.
The Zayed National Museum (Norman Foster’s spectacular fan-shaped design resembling feathers of a falcon) will be named after Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan, former ruler of Abu Dhabi and founding father of the Arab Emirates federation.  It will house contemporary Middle Eastern art–” a huge amount of talent  begging to be seen and recognised.” We very much look forward to seeing Palestinian artists represented in their program.
Emirati women who have been active in leading the cultural change are  an interesting group to watch.  They include Sheikha Salama bint Hamdan al-Nahyan and Sheikha al-Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani.

Edward Gibbs, director of the Middle East department  and worldwide head of Islamic  art at Sotheby’s says that the increased emphasis on culture  in the region has been “astonishing.” “The future is Asia and the Asians will come to Saadiyat Island  in the millions. He speaks of the ancient staging posts of the Silk Routes –the great cities of Palmyra and Nishapur  that collapsed back into the sand..Abu Dhabi , Doha, Dubai. These are the new staging posts!

Self Portrait with Goat by Durar Bacri

The recent New Yorker profile of Amos Schocken, publisher of Haaretz, made reference to the painting above, which is now hanging in Schocken’s office.
Durar Bacri‘s “Self Portrait with Goat” was shown in a competition in Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion  airport, 2006, where Schocken saw and bought it.  Schoken has followed Bacri’s career since then and purchased  other  Bacri paintings. In the Self Portrait seen above, Bacri describes himself  as an all-American Marlboro man, wearing jeans and shirt from a famous Israeli fashion designer. In the painting, he is “lord of his surrounding Galilee  hills.” The goat represents  a connection with the land and Palestinian life and reflects the loneliness that Bacri feels, isolated from both Arab and Israeli society.
Bacri feels that other Arab painters have turned their backs on him, perhaps because as an Israeli Arab, he falls between two worlds.