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Darat al Funun - 30th Anniversary

Truth is black, write over it with a mirage’s light - 3

Third exhibition of the 30th Anniversary Celebration
23 October 2018 - 14 March 2019

For its 30th anniversary, Darat al-Funun invited artists from all disciplines to pause and reflect, to re-imagine our world, and to reinvent their narrative, following the challenge set by Mahmoud Darwish in his poem To a Young Poet:
Truth is black, write over it
with a mirage’s light

Three consecutive exhibitions were held over 2018, of which this is the closing one. As in the two previous iterations, this third exhibition does not offer one reading of the past or the present. The artists offer a multiplicity of perspectives and present a wide variety of practices that reflect the complexities of our world and our time. Together the exhibitions form a constellation of new narratives and interrogations, while allowing scope for paradoxes and intricacies to emerge.

Darat al-Funun, Amman

Third Exhibition

In this last exhibition, Darat al Funun presents Ahlam Shibli’s photographic series ‘Occupation’ (2016/17). Recently shown as part of Documenta 14, the foundation of the work is the destruction of Palestinian livelihood in al-Khalil/Hebron and the occupied territories by the Israeli colonial regime and Zionist settlers. The photographs record the signs of a disturbing duplicate inversion, among other things. On the one hand, the images indicate how the settlers—who have invaded the Palestinians' territory, preventing them from using their property, and disrupted their freedom of movement—create a prisonlike space for themselves. On the other hand, the photographs reveal how the Palestinians use the hardware of the separation implemented by the Israeli occupation to protect their own public spaces and their homes.

Shot by drone across a perilous expanse, Hrair Sarkissian’s two-channel video installation, ‘Horizon’ (2016), charts one of the shortest and most common refugee routes from the Turkish shores to the island of Megisti on the edge of south eastern Greece. Sarkissian writes of this journey into the unknown as marked by extreme uncertainty wherein “there is just one line to hold on to: the horizon. It visualizes how close the future is, a starting point for building up hopes and dreams, a refuge for escaping the darkness of the present, while holding on to the memories of the past.”

In his new neon text sculpture, Adel Abidin outlines the title of a daring and challenging poem written by dissident Iraqi poet Muzaffar Al-Nawab that translates from the Arabic as ‘Jerusalem is the Bride of Your Arabhood’. It is a harsh and frank indictment that still reverberates today. James Webb’s ‘The Two Insomnias’ takes its title from 13th century poet Rumi. The work reframes and repurposes the poem, and seeks to untangle the relationships between nationalism, the individual, and the headiness of belonging. In a curious exploration of the nature of belief and the dynamics of communication, Webb’s video ‘Le Marché Oriental’ (2009) films the Azan (call to prayer) inside the empty remains of an Apartheid-era shopping mall a few weeks prior to its demolition to make way for luxury apartments.

In The Lab, Khalil Rabah presents ‘Member, Dismember, Remember’, an exhibition by the botanical department of ‘The Palestinian Museum of Natural History and Humankind’, his ongoing inquiry into the ways in which history is socially constructed through embedded material in identity and culture. Founded in 1995, the Museum is an institution that produces and presents artefacts and artworks dating to the present day. This ambitious long-term project sets out to disrupt iconic representations of Palestine.

The relationship between movement and space is highlighted in Studio8’s journey through the history of dance notation and survey of the ties between dance and the visual arts.

Sima Zureikat reflects on a context of displacement and transformation through a photographic series shot in Jordan. In a similar vein, Mo’awia Bajis casts a lens on the city of Amman in an installation that archives sounds, which attest to the city’s political, social and cultural transformations and invites viewers to produce personal interpretations of the city’s identity through sound. Will Iskander uses digital technology to cast a fresh eye on his immediate surroundings, and revisit ideas and principles anew.

Taking his profound interest in interrogating the familiar as a starting point, Ahmad Salameh’s film probes the human sense of humour in relation to social, historical and political contexts. Yousef Kawar’s installation immerses the public in what can best be described as an interactive painting. Riccardo Matlakas questions the pursuit of truth in a collaborative and interactive piece that attempts to make visible the invisible, the repressed, and the excluded.

In a firm line of continuity from when Darat first started printmaking courses together with the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts back in 1994, students from the faculty of Fine Arts at The University of Jordan have been using Darat's printing press to create new works under guidance of artist and Head of the Visual Arts Department, Jehad Al-Ameri. These are exhibited in Darat's Print Studios.

Participating artists in the October-January exhibition:
Adel Abidin (Iraq), Ahlam Shibli (Palestine), Ahmad Salameh (Jordan), Hrair Sarkissian (Syria), James Webb (South Africa), Khalil Rabah (Palestine), Mo’awia Bajis (Jordan), Riccardo Matlakas (Italy/UK), Sima Zureikat (Jordan/US), Studio 8 (Jordan), Yousef Kawar (Jordan), and Will Iskander (Jordan/UAE), as well as print works by students from The University of Jordan.

The Beit al Beiruti continues to feature panels giving a timeline of the past 30 years of exhibitions and events, and shows works in remembrance of 25 artists from The Khalid Shoman Collection: Abderrazak Sahli, Adnan al Sharif, Ahmad Nawash, Ali Jabri, Ali Maher, Alia Amoura, Amal Kenawy, Aziz Amoura, Hassan Hourani, Fahrelnissa Zeid, Farid Belkahia, Fateh al Moudarres, Ismail Fatah, Ismail Shammout, Issam al Said, Jumana el Husseini, Mahmoud Taha, Marwan, Mohamed Kacimi, Nabila Hilmi, Nuha al Radi, Paul Guiragossian, Rafa’ al Nasiri, Shaker Hassan al Said, and Vladimir Tamari, as well as Thabiso Sekgala, who was part of HIWAR, Darat's 25th anniversary exhibition. Zaha Hadid is also remembered.

Program of events

The exhibition is accompanied by a full program of artist talks and performances, films from Darat's archive selected by artists, curators in conversation, workshops, performances, and more.

A musical performance at 8:00 pm by soprano Tania Tamari Nasir will follow the exhibition opening. She will reenact the very first concert held in 1993 at the archeological site after the inauguration of Darat al Funun, when she sang poems by the late Palestinian writer Jabra Ibrahim Jabra, who travelled from Iraq to attend the concert in support of her innovative initiative. She was accompanied by pianist and composer Agnes Bashir and modern ballet dancer Rania Qamhawi. Now, for the closing event of Darat al Funun's 30th anniversary, Tania Nasir and Agnes Bashir will start by performing segments of the 1993 concert. In the second part of the concert, Tania and her niece, the soprano Mariam Vladimir Tamari, accompanied on the piano by Fadi Deeb, will sing solos and duos together, upholding the spirit of continuity of experiences transferred from one generation to another.

(From press information. Image on top, detail from Khalil Rabah's The Palestinian Museum of Natural History and Humankind)

30th Anniversary of Darat al Funun - the other two exhibitions:

First Exhibition
13 February - 17 May 2018

Second Exhibition
3 July - 4 October 2018

Address, opening hours

Darat al Funun

The Khalid Shoman Foundation
13 Nadeem al Mallah St.
Jabal al Weibdeh
Opening hours:
Sat - Thu 12 am - 7 pm
Fri closed

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See also in Art Destination Jordan:

Web guide for cultural travellers - a wealth of information and photos.

Contemporary art, archaeology, art history, architecture, cultural heritage.

Supported by
Jordan Tourism Board

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