Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


Remi Kanazi: The Art of Politics

The Art of Politics


By Remi Kanazi

New York City has long been considered an international hub of modernity and diversity, and yet bringing “Made in Palestine” to the Big Apple has been a ferocious battle. The taboo of Palestine overtook the minds of museum and gallery curators who feared funding cuts and protests. Al Jisser’s Samia Halaby described part of the struggle to me, “We knocked on the doors of every museum and every alternative space…When they finally all rejected us, the reason seemed mostly that the upper layers of their administrations, the directors and head curators, had all rejected the show.” A few of the curators confided in one of Samia’s colleagues explaining, “They would lose their funding if they show Palestinian art.”

Samia pleaded with an organization that she trusts and respects but explained, “They pleaded back that they were too fragile an organization in this art world and that showing Palestinian art would likely mean an end to their gallery.” These were the responses she received from confidants, but withheld their names, stating, “They are the ones who give us enough respect to answer honestly.”

“Made in Palestine” is an art exhibit showcasing 23 contemporary Palestinian artists from the Occupied Territories and the Diaspora. The art is presented in several forms, including oil paintings, photographs, textiles, sculptures and videos. The exhibit has already been featured in various parts of the US—including Texas, California and Vermont—and plans are in motion to continue to tour the country. Al Jisser has hosted events over the last year to raise money to bring “Made in Palestine” to New York City.

Samia and her colleagues quickly realized the resistance would continue unabated, “No one writes you a letter and says we reject you because you are Palestinian. People are embarrassed by their racism and their weakness. Instead, they tell you their schedule is full, or that the show does not fit within their artistic plans, and some even try to degrade the work saying that it does not meet their standards.” Samia, a former professor of Yale University’s School of Art, is also one of the artists featured in “Made in Palestine;” her work has been displayed in numerous prestigious museums around the world, including the Guggenheim Museum and the Art Institute of Chicago.

Raising funds for “Made in Palestine” has not come easily either. A young woman who attended a benefit last year said she was met in the parking lot by a group of angry protestors. “Go and have your exhibitions in a Mosque,” they yelled to her. A planned fundraiser in Westchester County in 2004 also met intense opposition. Ryan Karben, a local assemblyman, insisted that the show be canceled because some of the art, as the San Francisco Chronicle quoted him, “promotes violence and terrorism.” Karben, however, seemed to miss the point. His attitude prevented him from seeing what he was looking at. He was confusing the small exhibition at the fundraiser with the museum exhibition, “Made in Palestine.” At the fundraiser, he may have seen an etching by Mohammad Al Hawajri titled “Martyr” and presumed it to be an “Uprising in the Occupied Territories.” Karben conveniently wants to equate armed resistance against an occupying force, legal under international law, with the promotion of terrorism. Israel is not the subject of these works; Palestinian experience is. In April 2005, James Harithas, curator of the “Made in Palestine” exhibit, told Al Jazeera “We are dealing with immense ignorance here and it’s unfortunate that people have one image of Palestinians and automatically deny anything created by the Palestinian people.”

Misguided condemnation and protest reinforces the need for the beauty and voice of Palestinian art to be displayed for curious Manhattanites, travelers throughout the boroughs and tourists from across the world. The artists and poets that have contributed to this exhibit demonstrate the struggle, the oppression and the essence of Palestine through artistic expression and non-violence. When I asked Samia Halaby what she thought the biggest misconception people have pertaining to “Made in Palestine,” she responded, “People allow the mass media to fill their head with a discourse that is not their own experience. Lacking knowledge of Palestine and of Palestinian experience, they assume that the propaganda that fills the airways and their heads is reality. They see what Israel has created and publicizes -- Palestinians who are poor people wearing rags,
suffering malnutrition, and throwing stones. They do not see our history and do not know who we are.”

The exhibit will open on 521 West 26 Street (between 10th and 11th avenue) in Manhattan on March 14, 2006. Visit http://www.aljisser.org/ to learn more about the show and to get updated information on the New York exhibit.

*************

** Remi Kanazi is the primary writer for the political website www.PoeticInjustice.net. He lives in New York City as a Palestinian American freelance writer and can reached via email at remroum@gmail.com

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>

ALSO:

Buildup:

Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>

ALSO:

Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>

ALSO:


Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news