Otherwise Occupied is an exhibition of Palestinian artists organized by al Hoash as part of the Venice Biennale 2013. Curated by Bruce Ferguson and Rawan Sharaf, the exhibition features two internationally renowned Palestinian artists: Bashir Makhoul and Aissa Deebi, who were born inside the 1948 borders and emigrated to become citizens of other states operating in a globalised art world. They still think of themselves as Palestinians and are in search of new ways to imagine the nation from a distance.
Palestine, long under occupation, has been constructed by the imaginary of what are widely fragmented communities across the world. Art is capable of occupying cultural spaces that are otherwise inaccessible or invisible. Otherwise Occupied describes other ways of imagining the nation outside and beyond the conflict.
To be otherwise occupied is to be busy elsewhere, to be engaged in activities outside the programme. For these artists this means making work that does not necessarily comply with the agendas determined by the occupation. The ‘otherwise’ for them is an imaginary, parallel space beyond the claims of nationalism that is opened up by global cultural events such as the Venice Biennale.
Bashir Makhoul will be occupying the garden of the Liceo Artistico Statale di Venezia with thousands of cardboard box houses. The occupation will be partly made by members of the public during the exhibition, who can view the growing cardboard shanty town but will also be able to construct their own house from a stack of flat boxes.
This piece is a further exploration of Makhoul’s large-scale installation Enter Ghost Exit Ghost, which consists of a full-sized, interior maze and a large cardboard model of an Arab town or refugee camp and raises questions about the kinds of spaces that have emerged in sites of conflict and in the urban margins of globalization. This piece will be emphasizing the performative aspects of occupation—the act of getting there and of filling the space.
Bashir Makhoul is a Palestinian British-based artist who has a body of work developed over 20 years in a range of media exploring aesthetics and offering nuanced political critique on various topics. Makhoul is currently the Head of Winchester School of Art – University of Southampton, United Kingdom.
A two-channel installation, HD/DVD 15-minute loop, accompanied by 24 drawings.
This two-channel installation consists of a re-enactment in English of a speech by Daoud Turki at the Haifa court house in 1973, when he was a defendant during a military trial. Turki, a Palestinian-Arab citizen of Israel, had been arrested by the Israeli military with four other members of the “Red Front” and charged with espionage and collaboration with the enemy. In this speech, Turki tried to advance an idea against the paranoid Zionist fantasy of conflict toward the larger idea of a socialist class struggle, proclaiming solidarity with “…all workers, peasants and those persecuted in Israel society.” The brilliance of his rhetoric and the fullness of his reasoned argument, in which he criticizes Zionism for pitting Jews against Arabs, is caught as an address almost from Franz Kafka’s The Trial, which echoes throughout as the tone of an idealist caught in the jaws of the heinous militaristic state.
Aissa Deebi is a Palestinian artist based in Cairo and New York. His works investigates a range of notions around migration and alienation and diaspora as a creative space. He is the Director of the Visual Cultures Program at the American University in Cairo.
About Al Hoash
Al Hoash is a Jerusalem-based, non-profit Palestinian organization that seeks the development of visual arts as a substantial and critical tool for communication, innovation and free expression through programs that are research-based, community-linked and provide platforms for education, discourse and critical analysis.
Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton
American University in Cairo
Bashir Makhoul & Aissa Deebi
29 May–30 June 2013
Exhibition venue: Liceo Artistico Statale di Venezia (LASV) of Palazzo Ca’ Giustinian Recanati.
Address: Dorsoduro 1012, 30123 Venice, Italy