Qalandiya International 2016
Pattern Recognition: Ramallah
Venue: Beit Saa, downtown Ramallah, in front of the Arab Bank.
Dates/Times: Daily from 12:00–18:00, except on Thursdays from 12:00–19:00.
On Thursdays, there will be a performance by Asma Ghanem at 19:00 at Beit Saa.
Closed on Fridays. Runs through 31 October, 2016.
Organizers: The A.M. Qattan Foundation
Curator: Nat Muller
Artists: Click on the names below to visit each artist's section
Click on the links below to visit each section
Pattern Recognition brings together newly commissioned work from the nine artists shortlisted for the 2016 edition of the Young Artist of the Year Award (YAYA 2016). Developed over an intensive working period of five months, in close collaboration with the curator, this young generation of Palestinian artists present work that is rooted in the specificities of Palestinian locality, yet also transcends this. In a time of global uncertainties and polarization, which are amplified in Palestine, the artists have created works that combine politics with poetics and suss out certain patterns that define the unruliness of our present condition.
The projects in the exhibition explore how strategies of repetition open up avenues for critically rethinking issues of time, place, memory and authenticity. Straddling the grey zones between fact and fiction, original and copy, ruin and repair, the works re-imagine the mechanics of representation in the context of Palestine where geographies, histories and identities are fragmented.
Many of the works focus on how cycles of production are disturbed by forces that make things come undone. This continuous tension between creation and its unravelling functions as a metaphor for the Palestinian condition and as a conduit for the discussion of the complexities of the diverse Palestinian realities that these artists live and work in. It is from this reproduction and repetition of certain patterns that the artists reach out to the past and the future and trace a temporal lineage. In Pattern Recognition, repetition becomes a way to traverse different eras as well as an emancipatory tool for articulating an imaginary. This comes to the fore in the way the artists have edited their sound and video pieces, composed narrative structures, and how they have used imagery and material.
The works range from the very personal, such as Inas Halabi's video recording of a family history that is retold again and again, to the cool scientific forensics of Noor Abed's speculative sci-fi mystery. Witnessing and truth, these works suggests, are in the eye of the beholder. Bringing different timelines together, Aya Kirresh investigates the history of cement in Palestinian construction through a series of sculptural experiments, while Majd Masri traces how one iconographic image travels in different guises through Palestinian art history. Ruba Salameh unites the many impossibilities of Palestinian geography through nautical symbolism in her video piece. Others base their work on the convergence of construction and deconstruction, beginnings and endings. Majdal Nateel offers an accumulation of shattered dreams in her sculptural pillow installation. This resonates with Abdallah Awwad's wounded objects fashioned out of construction materials, Somar Salam's looped video of a quilt being woven and then pulled apart again, and Asma Ghanem's mesmerizing sound piece based on the sounds of war.
The exhibition takes place in Dar al Sa'a, a traditional house in the centre of Ramallah that was built in 1910 and restored two years ago. In its current form it combines its old origins with its renovated contemporary presence and function. It forms the perfect backdrop for a show that repetitively muddles up the notion of authenticity.
The Air Was Too Thin to Return the Gaze, 2016
Video and mixed media installation
On 8 August 2015, a rumour spread of people sighting an unidentified flying creature over the village of Bir-Nabala, northwest of Jerusalem. As reported, the witness described the creature as 'long, partially transparent and somewhat familiar'. After some intensive research on the site, the artist found a technological device that contained an internal digital memory: flickering footage showing a first-person view from above. She immediately wondered if this object was an internal part of the floating creature or had been attached to it? And is it a memory of a time in the past or in the future? She became obsessed with this object, its implications of a displacement in time and with whom its gaze may have belonged. For the past year, the artist has been in residence at the Whitney Museum Conservation Research Laboratory in New York City, where she worked with specialists on analyzing the traces she had found.
This installation aims to share part of the ongoing research undertaken by the artist on the local sighting event. The work maps connections between the materiality of the digital image and the field of archaeology as an approach to study parallel realities of the found device and its memory. The found footage of a first-person view from above creates a displaced floating gaze while establishing an imaginary stable ground. Our constructed notions of perception are therefore blended with a tinge of the future; the work emphasizes a non-linear narrative and twists our traditional modes of seeing.
The Horizon's Pathway, 2016
Sculptures made from iron, wires, gypsum, fabric, silicon. 250 x 200cm and 200 x 130cm.
For 'The Horizon's Pathway' Abdallah was interested in stretching the properties and possibilities of various materials. Working instinctively, and through a repetitive methodology of trial and error, he produced two sculptures that not only highlight the fragility and ephemerality of the respective materials used (iron, wires, gypsum, fabric, silicon), but also their uncertainty of form. His sculptures look like wounded objects, ambivalent about whether they are in the process of becoming, or of coming apart. There seems to be an implicit violence in these sculptures that are bandaged, covered in rusty patches and dripping gypsum. It stands in stark contrast to the sculptor's otherwise delicate hand. Ghostlike in their presence, these nebulous forms stand witness to the uncertainty of our times.
Homeland is…, 2016
Live experimental music performance and printed notational score.
Homeland is… is an improvised sound performance that seeks to render audible the stagnation in, and the disillusionment with, the Oslo process that from 1993 was meant to lead to a negotiated agreement with Israel and which Palestinians thought would bring about an independent state. Asma asks whether we can think about this post-Oslo period musically. Palestine finds itself suspended between a nation-in-the-making and one under occupation. This sensibility is echoed in the performance by using sounds that, on the one hand, reflect silence and inertia (the stalled process of nation building), such as the stretched notes from the melodica, and, on the other, sounds of the occupation such as shelling, sirens, noise and gunshots. The rhythm of the piece oscillates between extreme slowness and rapid tempo, again reflecting the two states of being; as does the mix of faint and loud sounds, that range from the harmonically musical to electronic sounds and the din of war, together conveying a sense of confusion. The military sounds echo specific events that might trigger memories. The post-Oslo period has been primarily represented through images, but with this project Asma attempts to represent this contradictory period through experimental music as this genre expresses the complexity of the era best. The performance is based on a notational score, shown in the exhibition space, but the improvised elements modify each performance.
The title of this work, Mnemosyne, is borrowed from the Titan goddess of memory and the 'inventress of language and words'. The starting point for the project is a scar on the forehead of the artist's grandfather. The scar was a result of a bullet shot in his direction by an Israeli soldier in the late 1940s. Focusing on the sagas of myth and the construction of memory, members of the same family are filmed individually as they narrate their version of the same event. By scratching the surface of family history, the project explores the scar as a foundational hinge that arranges reality. The project also considers how one can play the role of a historian when the primary source is no longer there. 'We do not remember. We rewrite memory much as history is rewritten.' As such, recollection becomes an act of transformation rather than reproduction.
 Chris Marker, Sans Soleil, 1983
كريس ماركر, Sans Soleil , ١٩٨٣
Haphazard Synchronizations, 2016.
Acrylic on canvas, prints, collage, gun and jasmine flowers
Haphazard Synchronizations is an art historical journey through Palestinian art that explores how artistic practice and styles were affected by political and social events since the Nakba. The work focuses on the embodiment of the idea of struggle and land by using an iconic archival photo of a Palestinian female fighter in military fatigues with a flower between her lips, taken in the mid-1970s in a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon. The photo expresses both military strength as well as soft femininity. It also echoes a recurring trope in Palestinian art in which female figures are represented as mothers and signify the homeland. Drawing from the work of seminal Palestinian artists and artistic genres, the basic elements of the original photo (woman, flower, gun) is transformed into six iterations in specific artistic styles that mark corresponding periods within Palestinian political history. From Greek icon painting, graphic poster art from the PLO, to the visual language of prominent Palestinian artist Sliman Mansour and political cartoonist Naji al Ali, each work takes the spectator to a specific era with its own style, colours and mediums.
The installation materializes the concept of ‘return’ as an individual and collective dream that defines the Palestinian, and other refugee, experiences. A number of sleeping pillows are sculpted by hand from a gypsum mould and then filled with earth. The earth leaking through the pillows symbolises the strong connection Palestinians have to their homeland, as well as the dispossession and displacement they have suffered. Each pillow is an autonomous sculpture in and by itself, but together they represent the magnitude of a shared dream. Imperfect and cracked, these pillows are also testimony to the difficulty of keeping hope and dreams alive in the face of adversity.