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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Jawad al Malhi, Palestine c/o Venice Artist Spotlight

For the next several posts, we will be running profiles of past projects by artists featured in the Palestine c/o Venice Pavilion. – ed.

Jawad al Malhi’s contribution to the 2009 Palestine c/o Venice Pavilion is hard to miss: a panoramic photograph, House #197, printed at monumental scale (pictured above). The image depicts the Shufhat Refugee camp in Jerusalem as seen from the neighbouring Israeli settlement. The image seems flattened as if taken with a telephoto lens; focal length emphasizes the distance between observer and observed.

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Khalil Rabah, Palestine c/o Venice Artist Spotlight

For the next several days, we will be running profiles of past projects by artists featured in the Palestine c/o Venice Pavilion. – ed.

For his extensive ‘Palestinian Museum of Natural History and Humankind‘, artist Khalil Rabah has created a fictional nomadic museum that collects and classifies the natural environment of Palestine. He describes it as follows:

The Palestinian Museum of Natural History and Humankind was established in 1936 to inspire wonder, discovery and creations, which provoke curiosity and deepen understanding of our natural and cultural world.

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Elia Suleiman at Cannes

The clip above is a great scene from the 2002 film ‘Divine Intervention’ by Nazareth-born filmmaker Elia Suleiman. Suleiman was back this year with a new film, ‘The Time that Remains,’ which was the toast of Cannes this year and was name-checked as a contender for the Palme d’Or. Haneke ultimately clinched the top honor, but we haven’t seen the last of Suleiman’s film.

The film tells the story of the 1948 war through the frame of his family’s personal experience, blending the personal and political in a way that has been described as “a grim comedy” and “a wryly humorous workout, marbled with personal sadness and mystification” There aren’t many clips online – here’s one – but there’s a beautiful interview with Suleiman talking about his passion for silence on the festival website. He speaks like a true poet.

Exciting News!!! Palestinian Art in New York

Our next group exhibition of Palestinian art, curated by Mary Evangelista with help from me, will open on July 7 at Postmasters Gallery. Stay tuned for further details!

Posted by Michael Connor

Annemarie Jacir’s “Salt of this Sea”, 2008

I recently had the chance to go see Annemarie Jacir’s first feature film, “Salt of this Sea” at Tribeca Film Festival in New York. The film tells the story of a young woman, Soraya (Suheir Hammad), born and raised in Brooklyn to Palestinian refugee parents, and her return to her homeland to reclaim her heritage as well as a material inheritance, the holdings of her grandfather’s bank account, held by the bank since the 1948 war.

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The Return of Orientalism?

The UAE National had another great article this past weekend: a trend piece about how British collectors are increasingly interested in art from the Middle East, and Middle Eastern collectors are increasingly interested in British Orientalist art from centuries past. The fascination between East and West, the article suggests, is mutual and has a long history. Check out the article here; also have a look at Lauren’s recent post on this blog about Edward Said’s writing on Orientalism.

Posted by Michael Connor. Image: A Game of Chess, an 1879 painting by the American Edwin Lord Weeks. Courtesy Bonhams.

/si:n/ festival of video art and performance

The /si:n/ festival of video art & performance opens tonight (May 19 2009) at 7.00pm at the A.M. Qattan Foundation in Ramallah. The festival features performances, screenings and installations from now through Sunday. Here’s a link to the program, and the full schedule.

The schedule includes 1999 video work by Khalil Rabah, ‘My Body and Sole,’ that we haven’t seen; work by Taysir Batniji, Jumana Abboud and Shadi Habib Allah; some tantalizing looking screening programs; and the work pictured above: Raeda Saadeh’s Vacuum. You can watch the piece online here; we recommend it!

From the Archives: Taysir Batniji, “Transit”, 2004

Time and its passage seems to be in the air lately so I recently re-visited a work by Taysir Batniji titled “Transit” from 2004. The work was originally shown at the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam from November 7, 2004 – January 9, 2005.

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Landscrape: Representation Matrixes

Hanna Farah-Kufer Bir’im is showing work as part of the exhibition Landsc(R)ape: Representation Matrixes at Petach-Tikva Museum of Art. The exhibition, curated by Sigal Barkai, combines works from the collection with work by a range of contemporary artists of varied cultural backgrounds. It explores the tension between private and subjective experiences of landscape and official versions of what a landscape is or should be.

Barkai describes Farah’s work as follows:

Farah’s delicate etchings—some containing the word “home,” others alluding to excerpts of typical Palestinian landscape, flora and fauna—are bathed in nostalgia, solitude, and yearnings for a place that was lost before he ever came into this world.

This lost place, in Farah’s work, is the village of Kufer-Bir’im:

The story of the uprooted Arab residents of Ikrit and Bir’im has been the subject matter of scores of discussions in the Israeli government, supreme court, and parliament (Knesset). None, however, led to fulfillment of the promise given to the local inhabitants in October 1948, that they would be able to return to their villages if they agree to be evicted due to the war. The inhabitants of the village of Bir’im, to whose offspring Farah belongs, scattered in other villages in the Galilee, remaining Israeli citizens, but their yearning to return to their home never left them.


Image credit: Untitled (2009), Hanna Farah-Kufer Bir’im.

Posted by Michael Connor.

The Subjective Atlas of Palestine

I found this book in the New Museum bookstore the other day. The Subjective Atlas of Palestine is not only a beautifully designed book, it offers a rare compilation of images by artists about Palestine. Dutch designer Annelys de Vet invited Palestinian graphic and fine artists to contribute to the book, hoping to offer a different image of the place:

Sublime landscapes, tranquil urban scenes, frolicking children; who would associate these images with Palestine? All too often the Western media show the country’s gloomy side, and Palestinians as aggressors. It is this that makes identifying with them virtually impossible. If we are to relate to the Palestinians other images are needed, images seen from a cultural and more human vantage point.

You can download a digital copy from de Vet’s website but I recommend trying to find the print version.

Posted by Lauren Pearson / Image Caption: “Beautiful Palestine” by Majdi Hadid