I never carried a rifle
On my shoulders
Or pulled a trigger
All I have is a lute’s melody
A brush to paint my dreams
A bottle of ink
Palestinian art is a virtually non-existing category in the historiography of art. It remains wither totally overlooked or relegated to the margins of the art globe. One reason for this consistent neglect may be the fact that Palestinians are often conceived in the West in stereotypical terms that are shaded by homogenizing political biases. Thought of as either ‘victimized peasants’ or as ‘evil terrorists’, they are categorized in two polarized roles; ironically, both ‘good’ and ‘evil’ roles imply their exclusion from the realm of culture.
The first English language text devoted to Palestinian art was published in 1970 by the artist and writer KAMAL Boullata. It called’ Towards a Revolutionary ARAB ART’. His early pioneering text is of great significance for various reasons. Boullata places Palestinian art within two important contexts. First, he views it as part of contemporary Arab culture. Second, he places Palestinian artists within a third worls context.
In 1984 an illustrated volume by Islam Bader and Nabil Anani, titled ‘ Palestinian Art Under Occupation’. The final section of the book is devoted to biographical notes and colored reproduction of works by dozens Palestinian artists. Unlike Boullata’s writings mentioned above, which attempt to provide a broad theoretical basis and an overview of the major trends that dominate Arab art.
The early historiography of Palestinian art directly (perhaps inevitably) reflects the dispersed and fragmented reality on Palestinian society. In addition, mush of Palestinian art- its diversity and specificity notwithstanding- reflect a tendency towards ’Dis- Orientalsm’. This term, with its deliberate to Edward Said’s theoretical insights concerning the Western construction of an imaginary orient.
I name the soil
I call it an extension of my soul
An important remark ‘The Nakba’ as a defining ‘site’ of collective memory of great magnitude-cannot be over-emphasized. Its far reaching impact on the developing art of pre 1948 Palestine, its variety of influences on post 1948 culture, the dispersal of the Palestinian and the consequent fragmentations of their histories, and the continuous shadow of this traumatic ‘memory site’ upon second and third generation artist, are among the recurring themes that dominate Palestinian art to this day. Suitcases appear in the workds of Monaa Hatoum, Khalil Rabah, Taysir Batniji, Raedw Saadeh and many others.
Empty dresses hover in the wind like black ghosts over the destroyed village of lift in the poetic video work of Raed Adon. Most recently Emily Jacir’s conceptual pieces try to heal the wounds suffered by her grandparent’s generation.
For art historian, the tragic losses caused by the Nakba determine our ability or rather of inability to raise throughout this volume postulates the transformation of ‘fragmentations’ from a specific historical expresses as ‘subject matter’ in art.
Palestinians occupy a special place within this volatile culture configuration. The tragedy of exile and dispersal has placed many Palestinian artists in an interstitial position between their oriental matrix and the dominate culture of the west. For this ‘in-between ‘ space, Palestinian art has the power to undermine hierarchies, to invent new categories, to rupture the EAST-WAST divide, and to Dis-orietalize vision.
Palestinian art (Book) ’ Gannit Ankori’