Saturday, 25 July 2009

Venice Biennale, 4 Palestinian pavillion

The collateral events scattered around the city are as interesting as the main events in the official Arsenale and Giardini. With a map and the vaporetto, it felt like a paper rallye race from one end to the other, trying to locate them.
For the first time, the Palestinian pavillion presented few works of their artists. As Palestine is not recognised as a country, it could not have its own stage. In reference to that state without land, their catalogue and title "Palestine c/o Venice" is about the need to have a host for their existence.
In its tourist's guides, Venice has the stigma of starting the first Jewish ghetto in 1516, when the ruling council decided to make all Jews live in the "Ghetto Nuova" and allowed them to practice their pawn-lending under strict laws, leave their ghetto with a yellow scarf or circle and lock the gates at night.
Venice is coming a long way, to allow the victims of the Israeli occupation to have their own physical presence on land and show their art under their own banner.
Palestinian art is closely related to lives under harsh conditions. It has to do with installations of photos of land, villages destroyed, buildings restored…
Salwa Mikdadi, the event's independent curator, had the difficult task of conceiving the project, as she says on the artists :"The fluidity of their art is reflected on their ability to work unfettered by geopolitical boundaries and exile. Collectively, they have brought to the world’s attention diverse conceptual readings of space of memory, displacement, migration, nation and the human condition."
Or which art to present at the biennale and how will it be understood in the arena of the best and will it be of equal level as the other art works?
Their most surprising work was in the dark sound proof room, where Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Patti offer a recording of: words from the Oslo treaty, people arguing, songs by Oum Kalthoum, and the unfogettable, hauting resonnace of bombs and shellings... It had the simplicity of a straight forward art, with a vibration that plunged the viewer into another time and space.

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