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Palestine c/o Venice

First Palestinian participation at the Venice Biennale. Curator: Salwa Mikdadi, seven artists. Information and photo tour.
Jun 2009

Palestine c/o Venice marks the first Palestinian participation at the Venice Biennale.

The exhibition's title reflects the state of affairs for Palestinians living in the occupied territories. The "c/o" refers to how mail is usually delivered to its intended receiver via a third party. The case of the Palestinian postal service is a metaphor of the Palestinian condition: For over a century it has functioned "c/o" a succession of colonialist rulers, Israeli occupation and more recently via neighbouring countries.

The seven participating artists, commissioned to create new works, were chosen for their outstanding commitment to their art and their ability to bridge local and global themes.

Salwa Mikdadi explains in her catalogue text:

"The title of the exhibition Palestine c/o Venice underscores chronic impermanence, a condition Palestinians surmount with creative resistance as they reclaim their place as art practitioners free from the political essentialism that defines the media representation of their aesthetics. The artists' personal narratives intersect with history, architecture and their art with communities, past and present. Their debates open spaces for activism and social and political engagement. (…)

Sandi Hilal & Alessandro Petti radicalize the absence of the image opening up an alternative space through multiplicity of conversation; Khalil Rabah's alternative 'actions' invites the Palestinians to represent themselves in Venice by re-mapping the concept of Biennales within their local geography. Both art projects reach out to the community, while Emily Jacir's stazione (2008-2009) project is a site specific work that engages all the Biennale visitors, pointing to a deeply rooted relationship between communities on each side of the Mediterranean Sea, and Shadi HabibAllah's hominoids reference universal themes addressing human impulses of populations everywhere. Taysir Batniji abstracts the art process exploring the proximity of a distant deserted studio and the suspension of time while Jawad Al Malhi's haunting panorama of the architecture of a camp is void of the physicality of the body yet it speaks of the forgotten growing refugee population.

We often hear or read about Palestine but seldom hear the voices of Palestinians. In Palestine c/o Venice there is an absence of the images of people which forces us to focus on the debate and the complexity of issues. The absence of body and the absences that are echoed across the artists' works impel us to imagine ourselves in the spaces represented and to listen to the artists and the people of Palestine."

(More information on the artworks, can be found on the respective photo pages)

The exhibition is strategically contingent on three factors:
1) that it initiates ties with a local Venetian institution in order to foster future relationships between Italian and Palestinian artists
2) to insure the independence and integrity of the exhibition, sponsorship was limited to funding by Palestinian individuals and institutions
3) since Palestinians are unable to travel to Venice due to the restricted exit and entry, simultaneous exhibits of the art works are held at six local Palestinian art institutions. The Palestinian venues are: A.M. Qattan Foundation, Birzeit University Art Museum, Al-Hoash Palestinian Art court, International Academy of Art Palestine, Al Ma'mal Foundation for Contemporary Art, and Riwaq Center for Architectural Conservation.

Information compiled from press releases and texts from the catalogue:
Palestine c/o Venice
Edited by Salwa Mikdadi
Published in Beirut by Mind the Gap
ISBN: 978-9953-0-1464-7

Palestine c/o Venice

Collateral event of the 53rd International Art Exhibition o the Venice Biennale

7 June -
30 Sept. 2009

Convento Ss. Cosma & Damiano
Campo S. Cosmo
Giudecca Palanca
30133 Venezia

Salwa Mikdadi

Vittorio Urbani


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