Past Disquiet: Narratives and Ghosts from the International Art Exhibition for Palestine, 1978. October 2018

Past Disquiet is an exhibition of stories culled from memories, yellowed newspaper clippings, magazines and publications, most of which are no longer in circulation, pamphlets from revolutions that have lost their fervor, and photographs stored in boxes that had not been opened in decades. It begins with Palestine in Beirut and travels the world, to Paris, Rome, Rabat, Baghdad, Tokyo, Venice, Santiago de Chile, Cape Town, back and forth, tracking myriads of stories of artists and militants - in other words, visionaries and dreamers who imagined museums that incarnated the causes they were fighting for. Museums without walls, ‘in exile’, or in solidarity with a cause, comprised of donations from artists, presented in the form of itinerant exhibitions, and were destined to travel the world until the historic change they were fighting for would become real. The International Art Exhibition for Palestine, like the International Resistance Museum for Salvador Allende and the Artists of the World Against Apartheid, began with artists who believe that art is at the heart of everyday life, in streets, cities, schools and homes, at the herald of political change, and with militants who believe that political change is impossible to imagine without artists.

Past Disquiet revives a history of actions of solidarity in the visual arts, that range from establishing art collections (‘museums in exile’), making interventions in public spaces, engaging in collective actions, painting murals, designing posters, etc. Past Disquiet maps these practices and actions and draws connections between the 1974 Bagdad Biennial, to the 1976 Venice Biennial, Documenta 6 and several editions of the Salon de la Jeune Peinture. First commissioned by MACBA in Barcelona (2015), the exhibition was presented in the framework of the museum’s thematic program of Decolonizing Museums and Exhibition Histories. The Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin hosted an adaptation of the exhibition in 2016, under their thematic program, Interrogating the Canon (or Kanon Fragen) with support for additional original research conducted in Germany, and production of new content. The year 2018 will be the final year we exhibit Past Disquiet, hosting it in Palestine is bringing “home” these unwritten histories.

Curated by Kristine Khouri and Rasha Salti.

Intimate Topographies: Be-longing, Nearness and Distance, 2019

The land has been a central theme in Palestinian art over the decades, through representations of the loss of the land, nostalgia, utopian representations of village and peasant life and of exile and distance from the homeland. Artworks have featured the creation of icons in the olive tree, the cactus, orange groves and the detailed representation of the landscape. Artists have also worked extensively with natural materials in a transformation that saw a move away from narrative and symbolic representations to the indexical markers and actual materiality of place. The representation of the land has not only been focused on the rural hinterland, but the history of representation of the cities as well. Many artists have dealt in their work with a sense of absence, of being out of place, with the homely and familiar that becomes unfamiliar, of things being out of sync and disrupted. Their works suggest a sense of distance from home, or a nearness yet with a sense of loss and alienation, melancholy and the residue of endless waiting and postponement.

The exhibition will explore the themes of the land in relation to the above through a unique selection of works from Palestinian art practitioners working within Palestine and beyond. It will draw on historical works, with works from collections, as well as contemporary art. The exhibition will be accompanied by a publication with an extended essay covering detailed exploration and contextualization of the artists’ works.

The exhibition is curated by the artist and curator Tina Sherwell. Tina has been the Director of the International Academy of Art Palestine since 2007. 

Gaza Gateway to Palestine, 2020

Gaza long served as a gateway to Palestine, and was a link between East and West. For over three thousand years, it was a trading hub and meeting place for every culture, language and religion that existed in this part of the world. This explains the vast number of antiquities that have been discovered there in the archaeological excavations undertaken since the late 19th century. In the last two decades alone, tens of thousands of objects have been unearthed. For more than twenty years, Jawdat al-Khoudary has been salvaging and preserving many of the objects that have been unearthed from Gaza’s building sites. His private collection, which includes hundreds of archaeological artefacts representing the lengthy and rich history of Gaza over a period of over 4,000 years, was first exhibited at the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire in Geneva, Switzerland in 2007.

The Palestinian Museum will host this collection in an exhibition that will place this rich history and culture within the context of Gaza’s more recent history. Providing an insight into the daily civil, religious and cultural life of the people of Gaza, from the Bronze Age (around 3500 BCE) until modern times, the exhibition will be structured around themes rather than a timeline. In addition to archaeological artefacts, it will also include early photography and maps of Gaza, and items relevant to contemporary issues related to its cultural heritage.