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.

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​Palestine and the Limits of Academic Freedom

Steven Salaita and Rashid Khalidi: In Conversation

Tuesday October 6, 2015
Book Culture
536 West 112 Street
Steven Salaita and Rashid Khalidi in a discussion of academic freedom, free speech on campus, and the movement for justice in Palestine.

In the summer of 2014, renowned American Indian studies professor Steven Salaita had his appointment to a tenured professorship revoked by the board of trustees of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Salaita’s employment was terminated in response to his public tweets criticizing the Israeli government’s summer assault on Gaza.

Salaita’s firing generated a huge public outcry, with thousands petitioning for his reinstatement, and more than five thousand scholars pledging to boycott UIUC. His case raises important questions about academic freedom, free speech on campus, and the movement for justice in Palestine.

In his new book Uncivil Rites, Salaita combines personal reflection and political critique to shed new light on his controversial termination. He situates his case at the intersection of important issues that affect both higher education and social justice activism.

Steven Salaita currently holds the Edward W. Said Chair of American Studies at the American University of Beirut. Author of six previous books, he is a regular columnist for Electronic Intifada and a member of the Organizing Committee of the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI).

Rashid Khalidi is the Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University and Co-Director of the Center for Palestine Studies. He is editor of the Journal of Palestine Studies, and was President of the Middle East Studies Association, and an advisor to the Palestinian delegation to the Madrid and Washington Arab-Israeli peace negotiations from October 1991 until June 1993. Khalidi is the author of Sowing Crisis: American Dominance and the Cold War in the Middle East (2009); The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood (2006); Resurrecting Empire: Western Footprints and America’s Perilous Path in the Middle East (2004), which was awarded the Albert Hourani Prize of the Middle Eastern Studies Association; Palestinian Identity: The Construction of Modern National Consciousness (1996), which also won the Albert Hourani prize; Under Siege: PLO Decision-Making During the 1982 War (1986); and British Policy Towards Syria and Palestine, 1906-1914 (1980).

Free and open to the public.

This event is sponsored by Haymarket Books, the Center for Palestine Studies, and Book Culture.

For more information about the book, please click here.

CPS presents the Buenos Aires Palestinian Film Festival August 13-19, 2015 at BAMA Cinearte

The aesthetic roots of Palestinian cinema are deeply embedded in the history of Palestinian dispossession, political fragmentation, exilic experiences, and diasporic longings… Palestinian cinema as a result is the meandering topography of a nation dreaming and interpreting its dreams in open-ended, contingent, and yet enabling gestures (Hamid Dabashi).

Following in the footsteps of other Palestinian international film festivals in London, Boston, Madrid and Santiago, the purpose of the Buenos Aries Festival is to engage Latin American audiences with filmic depictions of Palestinian history and cultures.

The Center for Palestine Studies (CPS) at Columbia University presents its first Palestinian Film Festival in Buenos Aries. The festival from August 13-19, 2015 will feature iconic works from Palestinian cinema, which has emerged as a globally influential artistic force.

The program includes the screening of four feature films and three short films, with subtitles in Spanish, together with a series of lectures by special distinguished guest Hamid Dabashi, Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University.

Professor Dabashi is a renowned film expert, and the founder of Dreams of a Nation, a Palestinian Film Project, which is dedicated to preserving and safeguarding Palestinian cinema. Dabashi has organized Palestinian film festivals both in Palestine and the United States and is on the advisory board of a number of other Palestinian film festivals worldwide. His edited volume, Dreams of a Nation: On Palestinian Cinema was the first major multi-author treatment of the subject.

This festival is sponsored by the Center for Palestine Studies, Programa Sur Global at Univeridad Nacional de San Martin, in collaboration with Buenos Aires Mon Amour (BAMA) and Centro Cultural de la Cooperacion Floreal Gorini.

Purgatory” video art exhibition by Bashar Alhroub at Um el-Fahem Art Gallery, this Saturday the 6th of June

The Degree Show 2015 – Save the Date Saturday 13th June at 5pm

Symposium: Augmented Reality and Tourism in Palestine

Exhibition invitation – Here, in 66

AFAC participates to the 8th Informal Donors’ meeting in Amman

AFAC participated in the 8th Informal Donors Meeting for Arts and Culture in the Arab Region held in Amman, Jordan earlier this week (February, 2-4). The panels focused on Social Change, Arts and Economic Development, Arab Philanthropists, Working with Governments and Cultural Policy Reform. AFAC director Oussama Rifahi was tasked with moderating the panel on philanthropy.

In light of significant challenges – as well as opportunities – facing the region, discussions that centered around the impact of art on societies, the role of philanthropists, a need for reviewed operating and funding strategies as well as an assessment of policies adopted by some governmental institutions in the regions, gained even more momentousness. This year’s edition, co-hosted by the Open Society Foundations, the Aga Khan Music Initiative (a program of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture), and Tamasi Performing Arts Collective, also allowed for information sharing, comparing experiences and networking.

#10 – Jerusalem Show VII: Fractures by Al-Ma’mal Foundation for Contemporary Art (East Jerusalem)

Hera Büyüktaşçıyan’s “Recovery from an Early Water” (2014) installation in the Old City of Jerusalem (photo Hrag Vartanian of Hyperallergic)

October 24–November 7
Curated by Basak Senova, this show in Jerusalem’s Old City was an incredible opportunity to place art on a fault line. Project after project in the Jerusalem Show VII revealed aspects of the city that are normally unavailable to foreigners. Artist Hera Büyüktaşçıyan’s large sculptural installation in the Greek Patriarch’s “pool” was like a drawing in space. For his part, Australian artist Tom Nicholson explored the use of eucalyptus plants by Israelis as a tool of occupation. French artist Jonathan Loppin transported a box of items to Jerusalem (and later the West Bank) that are currently banned in Gaza and unpacked them as part of his performance — everyone was scratching their heads as to why such everyday items as beef bouillon cubes, raw salt, fruit cocktail, twine, grey cement, and a French horn could possibly be banned. I’ll admit that this project isn’t only here because of the art, but also because it was incredible what Al-Ma’mal was able to pull off with such a limited budget. This was a grassroots show that brought together passionate members of the local and global art world excited to share in the community of art. It was also part of the second Qalandiya International biennial. —HV

Art of Memory Life Before 1948

Biennale seeks to boost Palestinian art

Qalandiya, West Bank – Just a stone’s throw away from Jerusalem lies a sleepy town with an infamous name. Qalandiya, a village bordering the holy city but divided from it by the Israeli separation wall, shares the same name as the hulking Israeli checkpoint between the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

This week, the town of almost 1,000 came into the limelight for hosting the inauguration of the Palestinian Occupied Territory’s largest biennale to date.

Following in the footsteps of previous biennials, Qalandiya International (QI) will be held every two years.

Taking place from November 1 until November 15, the proceedings feature events in Palestinian cities and villages across various divides, including the Gaza Strip in the southwest and Nazareth in the north.

New associations

Put together by seven Palestinian institutions focusing on art, architecture and cultural heritage, the event will include installations, book launches, movies, musical performances and museum openings.

“An entire generation doesn’t know that Qalandiya is actually a village. They think it’s just a checkpoint.”

- Mahmoud Abu Hashhash

“We all have programmes that aim at highlighting and supporting cultural life in Palestine. So we thought, ‘Why not create a larger umbrella under which all these institutions can consolidate their creativity to bring some much-needed international attention to this place’,” said Sahar Qawasmi, the event’s coordinator.

For the past decade, Qalandiya has been associated with the Israeli checkpoint dividing West Bank Palestinians from Jerusalem. Naming the biennale after an area tied to infamous checkpoint was a bold move intending to change people’s associations with the name, according to the coalition of institutions hosting the event.

“An entire generation doesn’t know that Qalandiya is actually a village. They think it’s just a checkpoint,” said Mahmoud Abu Hashhash, director of the arts programme at AM Qattan Foundation, one of the hosting institutions. Many are unaware, he said, that Qalandiya is also a refugee camp and a now-defunct airport built during the British Mandate. “The place that used to link Palestine to the rest of the world has become a tool dividing it. That’s the grand irony,” Abu Hashhash said.

The partner organisations stressed that the idea behind Qalandiya International is also to garner international attention, in addition to creating a sphere for Palestinian self-expression and exploring popular consciousness.

“The political and economic path has reached a dead-end and the Palestinian future seems bleak,” said Jack Persekian, the artistic director of the biennale. “From this premise came the idea of creating a cultural event that could unite a geographically severed Palestine. In today’s Palestine, art does not reflect politics; art is politics and they meet at Qalandiya International.”

The interdisciplinary event will feature the work of 50 Palestinian and international artists from Australia, Italy, Mexico and Switzerland, among others, and will highlight architectural sites, guided visits and conferences on urban design.

Opening night

On the opening night at an old stone home built in the 1880s near the village’s entrance, Palestinians and foreigners alike, art aficionados and architects, gathered for the event’s showcasing of an audio-visual performance, a film screening and an art exhibit.

In one of the rooms, a concrete football was showcased while in the background, a projector flickered in the darkness, showing a man using a chisel and hammer to chip off bits of the concrete wall built by Israel to separate the West Bank from its environs.

Khaled Jarrar, the artist behind the installation “Concrete”, said he wanted to “repurpose” the wall.

The installation “Concrete”, a ball made out of bits of the Israeli separation wall [Dalia Hatuqa/Al Jazeera]
“I’m against the beautification of this wall, but I am for using it,” Jarrar said. “My idea is to use parts of this ugly thing to create something more beautiful,” he said, adding that he spent several weeks mixing parts of the wall with cement and creating soccer and volley balls, among other objects. “As I spent more time by the wall, I met a few children who told me that in the past, they used to have a huge playground. Then the wall was built and it left them with a small space to play in. That’s what inspired me to focus on the soccer balls.”

On the sidelines of the biennale, a group of Palestinian architects will be showcasing a series of furniture pieces built from discarded construction waste. The group is using natural and renewable materials as well as found and discarded objects to create a range of public seats and children’s slides to be used throughout Qalandiya International.

One of the events taking place is a retrospective exhibition and movie on Mustafa Hallaj, a late Palestinian artist who fled to Syria with his family during the 1948 Nakba. His artwork includes paintings, murals and illustrations inspired by ancient Canaanite folk stories and culture.

Other events include an exhibition called “Gestures in Time”, which entails public art projects in four historic centres in the West Bank, in addition to public talks and a symposium on urban design and modernist architecture in the Arab world. As part of this collaboration, a Cypriot artist will showcase “A Cave in Dhahiriya”, a West Bank village cave turned into a permanent museum featuring the life and history of Palestinians living in the area.

Future plans for the biennale include inviting more institutions to participate and to work more inclusively with the Palestinian Diaspora and refugees.

Khalid Hourani, director of the International Academy of Art, said he hopes the event will boost Palestine’s position in the international art scene. “We hope that the next time you hear the word Qalandiya, you’ll think of this biennale, not the checkpoint.”