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Palestine News Agency (WAFA)
"Gallery Al-Mahatta: Manifestation of Complicity with Self"
October 6, 2009
Author: Nida Awine
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Gallery Al-Mahatta: Manifestation of Complicity with Self

RAMALLAH, October 6, 2009 (WAFA) - If "art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life," as Pablo Picasso once said, then we need more art in our lives, to purify our souls from all the dust accumulated from our daily strife. Thus, can be described the experience of twenty-five artists from varied countries, as they gathered at Edward Said Conservatory of Music in the little town of Birzeit, near Ramallah.

Gallery Al-Mahatta has, for the first time in Palestine, organized an international art residency through which Palestine will, according to Hafez Omar, Projects Director at Gallery Al-Mahatta, join Triangles Art Trust, founded in 1982.

Ten Palestinian artists, five Arabs and ten internationals lived together for two weeks, during which they presented their works, shared their experiences. They absorbed the surroundings, the particularities and traits of the Palestinian "intense" context, as Hafez described it. By acting, reacting and interacting with each other, and with the unique socio-political environment of Palestine, each artist came up with a concept and developed it into a work of art.

On the October 4, 2009, their works were exhibited in Birzeit.

Desire, trust, suffocation, reflections and footsteps are not everything the artists experimented, and expressed. Their love for art was not a mere repercussion of their works, it was more than that. It was a reproduction of sentiments they felt, an overflow of the environment.

The value of a Palestinian human being was evoked in a performance by Ibrahim Jawabreh (24), as he discussed the merit of being a Palestinian. "Desire is the space to be discovered within us, but the path of this discovery is misled by political and societal limitations. This subconscious deviation of paths, makes us like cattle. We lose the ability to live our innermost emotions. There is a lack of comprehension, a lack of understanding and a lack of intimacy. Continuous conflicts, divisions, biases, taboos and the inability to react make a Palestinian human being feel worthless… much more like a sac of tomatoes," said Ibrahim, with a grin most likely to inspire Mother Nature to create.

David Greg Harth, from New York City, trusted Palestinians on his life. In response to a question asked by his mother when he told her he was coming to Palestine, "do you trust people there?" He tied himself to a large rock from one side and to a rope from the other. He dropped the rock over a height of 6 meters, and let spectators hold the rope. If one Palestinian let go of the rope, David would have fallen down and died. However, he told them: I trust you with my life. David did not at all seem afraid; he had no question or doubt, despite the big risk he had put his safety into. David trusted, and his trust was not misplaced.

Salameh Safadi, from the village of Majdal Shams in the Occupied Syrian Golan Heights, wanted to share the fury of the Arab citizens of Israel, when they see the names of historical Arab cities written in the Hebrew pronunciation on road signs. He installed four signs with the names of the cities of Yaffa, Acre, Nazareth and Jerusalem all in Hebrew pronunciation transliterated into Arabic letters. His message was to transmit the fury and protest the name changing, in an attempt to erase the Arab Palestinian identity from those places. Salameh’s work aroused rage into people; the exact reaction he had expected. He filmed the people’s interaction with the work, and displayed a very stirring film about it.

What can be stronger than a work of art, other than a blend of diverse energies stemming from different cultures? This question has been powerfully and truthfully answered in the experience and works of all the artists in this workshop. They met on September 22, 2009, and departed on October 6, 2009. In two weeks, they shared space, food, chores, laughs, and life.

With tired smiles on their faces, they said farewell to the place, and each other, hoping of another encounter, another dare, and yet, a never ending path of art.

Copyright 2009 Palestine News Agency