Sharjah Biennial’s off-site project focuses on Palestine

August 06, 2017
Kindred spirit. Lara Khaldi, interlocutor of the Sharjah Biennale 13 offsite project in Ramallah. (Alaa Abu Asaad)

Sharjah - Sharjah Biennial 13 (SB13), curated by Christine Tohme, is to release its third instalment, an offsite project in the West Bank city of Ramallah titled “Shifting Ground.”
SB13’s overarching theme “Tamawuj” — meaning “wavy,” “fluctuating” or “undulating” — and its conceptual framework based on “Water,” “Crops,” “Earth” and “Cu­linary” form the foundations of so­cial interaction and exchange.
Using Sharjah as a starting point, Tohme reached out to the Mid­dle East to foster cooperation and bring the event to Dakar, Istanbul, Ramallah and Beirut. The Ramallah project is scheduled for August 10- 14 and relates to projects focusing on the word “Earth.”
Major themes highlighted by SB13 in Sharjah, such as the mean­ing of nature, decay, power struc­tures, oppression and violence, will be more focused as the project un­folds in Ramallah.
Lara Khalidi, a curator in Jerusa­lem, is the interlocutor for “Shifting Ground” in Ramallah and is tasked with researching and facilitating di­alogue on “Earth.” She is a kindred spirit to Tohme, having curated ex­hibitions around the world, includ­ing in the Palestinian territories, and organised seminars and confer­ences in the region.
She teaches art history and the­ory at the International Academy of Art Palestine and has taught at Dar Al-Kalima University College of Arts and Culture in Bethlehem.
The programme Khalidi organ­ised includes newly commissioned publications, a symposium and performances. The symposium is to provide an opportunity for pre­senters to interact with the audi­ence and offers different styles of presentations, such as artist perfor­mances and academic papers.
The artists’ publications are to highlight research on issues related to “Earth” and experiment with the book as an art form.
A structure by AAU Anastas has been designed to respond to the theme of “Earth.”
The Palestinian territories were highlighted at the opening of SB13, with architect Khalil Rabah explor­ing the relationship between art and institutions in “Palestine after Palestine: New Sites for the Pales­tinian Museum of Natural History and Humankind Departments.” Rabah draws attention to the occu­pation of his homeland and to the resilience of sites and symbols that exist despite their contested state of being.
Noor Abuarafeh’s novel, “‘The Earth Doesn’t Tell Its Secrets’ — His father once said” (2017), which fo­cuses on museums in the Palestin­ian territories, debuted at Sharjah. Its Arabic translation is to be re­leased in Ramallah.
Sharjah Art Foundation’s news release highlighted some of the other events and participants.
Samir Harb and Mimi Cabell’s publication investigates the his­tory of the infrastructure of author­ity, tracing the literal and symbolic history of the Tegart forts through multiple systems of design, the re­lease said. Buried stories are also showcased, with the work of art­ist Inas Halabi looking at invisible, buried chemical waste and radia­tion in the southern West Bank.
Work from the Ma’touq collec­tive attempts to rewrite and rein­sert Palestinian insurgents from the 1920s into present narratives. “Subversive Film” (by Reem Shilleh and Mohannad Ya’qubi) addresses a syllabus for filming during the Palestinian revolution from the ar­chive of filmmaker and co-founder of Fatah’s Palestine Film Unit, Hani Jawhariyyeh, the release stated.
Yara Saqfalhait considers emerg­ing sinkholes around the Dead Sea in relation to a history of unreal­ised infrastructure projects in the area to investigate the relationship between systems of prediction and the reality they help materialise and Benji Boyadjian presents ma­terial on the history of the ancient aqueduct network in Jerusalem and the complexities that occurred once the network became clogged.
Many of the publications were created during workshops in which participants collaborated with the artists.
The symposium “Shifting Ground,” curated by Khalidi in col­laboration with Rana Anani and Yara Saqfalhait, is scheduled for five days. Scholars Keller Easter­ling, Suhad Daher Nashif, Abdul Rahim Al-Shaikh, Sophia Stamato­poulou-Robbins, Chiara De Cesari and Doreen Mende as well as art­ists working on the publications are to discuss the themes of burial grounds in Palestine, the earth as a medium and various museum mod­els that reflect the colonial context, the foundation release said.
The symposium is to bring to­gether local and international art­ists such as Jumana Emil Abboud, Filipa César, Noor Abu Arafeh, Khaled Hourani, Khalil Rabah and Nasser Soumi and will present per­formances, non-academic lectures and lecture performances.
Christine Khoury, Rasha Salti, Lawrence Abu Hamdan and Rabih Mroué are expected to participate remotely, as they cannot enter the occupied Palestinian territories. Palestinian poet Asma’a Azaizeh, who was trained by Mroué in Ber­lin, is to give three lectures.