This is Not an Exhibition

Brought to you by Shababek for Contemporary Art and the Eltiqa Art Gallery in Gaza

In past wars and throughout the years of siege and blockade, Palestinian artists in Gaza have painted their works with funeral shrouds as canvases. During a genocide, and the absurd imposition of parallel social conventions and the warping of all established meaning and common sense that comprise it, shrouds turn to canvases; as for the frames of surviving paintings, they are dismantled to light a fire to warm bodies saturated by the cruel cold, or to prepare food to dull the sting of hunger.

This is Not an Exhibition, and certainly not a traditional one neatly displaying specific artworks by their artists. That is beyond our capabilities now; no one can do so, as basic communication with Gazan artists is almost impossible. They, like everyone else in the Gaza Strip, are resisting annihilation in a genocidal war. For months, they have been suffering the misery of displacement, hunger, and cold. They left their homes and studios behind, either destroyed or their destruction imminent, and have consigned their artworks to flames, shelling, and death. As for those who live outside Gaza, their hearts are being torn apart by the agony and martyrdom of their families, our families, and their fates. These considerations have made the mere mention of art seem a luxurious disconnection from reality, and consequently has made it seem preposterous to even think about creating a conventional exhibition.

As the machine of killing and destruction continues to transform the urban and natural landscape in the Gaza Strip into endless grey masses, acting as a black hole devouring all colour and detail, minuscule and profound alike, and where death is hunting down all iterations of life, this exhibition and its artworks from homes in the West Bank stands as a powerful witness to the indomitable spirit of Gaza. In the last decades, the Strip has seen increasingly brutal war after war and an oppressive siege, but each time it has risen again.

All this time, art in Gaza has not been merely a testament to the harshness of reality, but in essence, is the manifestation of human existence. Gaza’s art thus defies the ugly cruelty of the occupation that is meant to dehumanize.