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Instant Modernism

On the Architectural Fabrication of Israel

13 May - 18 November 2023

A. M. Qattan Foundation Cultural Centre
Ramallah, Palestine

Curator: Yazid Anani

Artists & Participants

Abaher El-Sakka, Abderahman Shabaneh, Ahed Izhiman, Ahmed Alaqra, Akram Halabi, Alaa Abu Asad, Alaa Badarn, Alexandra Sophia Handal, Alia Rayyan & Hanan Toukan, Amani Harhash, Amjad Ghannam, Aref Masalha, Arwa Qalalwa, Bashar Al Hroub, Bilal Shalash, Elias Khuri, Essa Grayeb, Faris Shomali, Firas Shehadeh, Hanna Qubty, Kamal Al Jafari, Khaled Albasheer & Jumanah Bawazir, Lubna Al-Araj, Mahmoud M Alshaer, Manal Mahamid, Mirna Bamieh, Monther Jawabreh, Nadi AbuSaada, Nardeen Srouji, Nasser Golzari & Yara Sharif, Oraib Toukan, Pelin Tan, Reema Nobani, Ronen Zien, Ruba Farawneh, Salim Abu Jabal, Sary Zananiri, Shada Safadi, Walid AlWawi, Yara Hawari, Yasser Khaldi & Nahed Habiballah


Coordination: Tasneem AlQadi
Production Team: Amer Hasan, Dia Jubeh, Khalid Fanni, Mohamad Azzeh
Graphic Design: Hilal Jabareen, Majdi Hadid
Dioramas: Mahdi Baraghithi

Curatorial Introduction

This exhibition reveals the artificial aspects of the Israeli colonial project by exposing its fabrication of an 'instant' identity via modernist architecture and urbanism. Using The Object of Zionism: The Architecture of Israel  by Zvi Efrat (Spector Books, 2018), the exhibition unveils the ways modernist architecture and urban planning were utilized to construct an identity for the new Israeli colonial state. The paradigm of modernism at that time embodied a critical stance, according to its own semantics, by detaching itself from history and isolating itself from tradition. The advent of modernism created an unprecedented opportunity for the emergence of an ‘instant’ Zionist state. The historical epistemology of cultural production was rendered unessential and had no place in the modernist architectural and urban language, justifying the alienation of the modern Israeli state project from the still existing Palestinian history, landscape, and culture.

The exhibition does not engage in the author’s curated discourse; instead, it attempts to establish connections with the book’s archival material, generally inaccessible to Palestinian scholars. Most discourse on Israeli architecture by Palestinian architects, artists and scholars concerns settler-colonial infrastructure in the occupied Palestinian territories, as well as academic and cultural endeavours to decolonize settler colonies and apartheid infrastructure. This project expands on the history of modernist Israeli urban and architectural practices related to the fabrication of the newly born state and its international identity.

The exhibition introduces a novel way to curate exhibitions based on books and their textual and visual material. Typically, books use images predominantly to illustrate its textual content. This framing of images confines the interpretation of visual material to be only through the lens and filters of the text. This exhibition strips down the book from its curated textual content, erasing all headings, paragraphs, sentences, letters and numbers. Captioned images are left suspended on the pages without any information to explain their location, grouping or narration.

To bring a different gaze on this repository of archival images, the exhibition features the work of forty-five artists, academics, writers, and filmmakers who have used photographs and captions from thirty-four sections of the book to create their own interpretations. These individual interpretations stitch images together to form new stories, narratives and commentaries that reflect our provocative contemporary, thereby initiating the shaping of an alternate history through the medium of the exhibition.

Photos & Statements

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The A.M. Qattan Foundation
27 An-Nahda Women Association St.
Ramallah 90606
P.O. Box 2276, Ramallah, Palestine.
Tel: +970 2 296 0544

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© Photos and texts: A.M. Qattan Foundation

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