‘Otherwise Occupied’: Palestinian artists to exhibit at 2013 Venice Biennale

Palestinian artists at this year’s Venice Biennale showcase installations tackling issues such as alienation, identity and conflict.

Ahram Online,

Monday 11 Mar 2013

‘Otherwise Occupied’, an exhibition of Palestinian artwork at the 55th edition of the prestigious Venice Biennale, will be held from 29 May until 30 June, presenting a neutral space in which Palestinian artists can showcase their art.

The exhibition is organised by The Palestinian Art Court (Al Hoash), a Jerusalem based non-profit organization seeking to develop Palestinian visual arts as a tool for expression and communication, and curated by Bruce Ferguson, Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Science at the American University in Cairo. Bruce Ferguson and Al Hoash director Rawan Sharaf, will feature the work of two globally acclaimed Palestinian artists; Bashir Makhoul and Aissa Deebi as part of the exhibition.

“’Otherwise Occupied’ describes other ways of imagining the nation outside and beyond the conflict; it is therefore a means of artistic and critical thinking through the de-territorialization of Palestine,” reads the curatorial statement.

Both Palestine-born artists have emigrated, yet continue to create artwork abroad that somehow redefines their roots. Both artists are “in continuous search of new ways to imagine the nation from a distance,” according to the the press release.

UK based artist and head of the Winchester School of Arts at Southampton University, Bashir Makhoul, will exhibit a large-scale installation project entitled “Giardino Occupato” at this year’s Venice Biennale. Thousands of cardboard boxes, assembled by members of the public during the show, will be shown in the garden of the Liceo Artistico Statale di Venezia, simulating a shanty town, or refugee camp, probing questions regarding the spaces and shelters that have emerged in the wake of conflict and occupation.

While Makhloul is occupied with raising questions about the impact of war on the livelihoods of people, his work often offers political critiques on various issues, Aissa Deebi is more concerned with issues of cultural-migration, his work investigating notions of alienation and identity. Deebi is based between Cairo and New York, and is currently the Director of the Visual Cultures Program at the American University in Cairo.

In ‘Otherwise Occupied, Deebi exhibits a series of drawings, and an installation recreating a speech by the Palestinian citizen of Israel, Daoud Turki, who tried “to advance an idea against the paranoid Zionist fantasy of conflict toward the larger idea of a socialist class struggle, proclaiming solidarity with ‘…all workers, peasants and those persecuted in Israeli society.'”

This article first appeared here .

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