Curated by Berlin-based curator Charlotte Bank, the exhibition takes a closer look at identities and rootedness from a trans-cultural angle. By their life circumstances, all participating artists share experiences of displacement and alienation. In their work they explore the different conditions of being a displaced person, an exile, a foreigner, a migrant, always out of place and always in need of countering stereotypes and prejudices of their host societies.
In the realities of the 21st century, different forms of transnational existence is becoming increasingly common and among some groups of people, even the norm rather than the exception. To the past forms of migratory movements such as permanent immigration and exile, new models are emerging, based on temporary movement flows and showing a multitude of diverse articulations.
Up-rootedness often goes hand in hand with a certain fragmentation of the mind, placing a person forever “out of place”, in a perpetual state of passing-through, living in provisional conditions, forever expecting to pack and move on when conditions demand it.
Presenting his work “In Exile” (2008), Steve Sabella explores his own state of mind of living in a permanent “mental exile”, seeking a visual expression of his sense of fragmentation, disorientation, confusion and dislocation. He draws the viewer into images of multiple perspectives that turn even the simplest view into disturbing and disorienting landscapes. He seeks to deconstruct the familiar in order to recompose, thus creating a new reality through compositions that correspond to the experience of living in constant exile.
Meanwhile Larissa Sansour presents her project entitled “A Space Exodus”, a multidisciplinary work consisting of video, photographs and installation, in which she gives us a meticulously fabricated alternative to a present reality, offering a carefully constructed alternate paradigm that is as charmingly mischievous as it is whimsical. The project consists of her video “A Space Exodus” (which was recently nominated for the Muhr Awards for short film at the Dubai International Film Festival)—in which we watch her landing on the moon—along with four large photographs of the event and thirty toy-like 'Palestinaut' sculptures. As the viewer witnesses Sansour, a Palestinian, a woman, take her first step on the moon, she references both Neil Armstrong, 1969, and Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, proclaiming, "One small step for a Palestinian, one giant leap for mankind." The film offers a naively hopeful and optimistic vision for a Palestinian future contrasting sharply with all the elements that are currently eating away at the very idea of a viable Palestinian state. In A Space Exodus, Sansour does finally reach the moon, although her contact with Palestine’s capital is cut off.
Taysir Batniji presents a series of photographs entitled “Chambres” (2005), a project which he produced during his residency at the Ecole Supérieure des Beaux-Arts Le Mans in France. The series represents a set of quasi abandoned rooms at La Fonderie, an old Ranualt factory, established by the Radeau Theatre 20 years earlier. Both personal – each room having its unique style, ambiance, with objects chosen with a particular taste - and impersonal – each room can accommodate different people without having any impact or change after the person’s departure – these spaces are neither a hotel nor an apartment. It is an oscillation between transitory and permanent places, between abandoned or collected objects, between absence and presence. As with his previous work, this series reflects Taysir’s interest in places of transit, spaces that draw a think line between intimacy and detachment, of disappearance and appearance.
Bashar Hroub presents his latest series of photographs. Entitled “Here and Now”, the series presents the body as a signifier in an attempt to engage with the search into the self. The work deals with personal vulnerability and an experience of existential anxiety strongly associated with issues such as religion, nationalism, conflict and identity construction and looks for meaning not in the individual sign but in the context of exile and fragmentation.
Notes to Editors
Born in Jerusalem in 1975, London/Berlin based artist Steve Sabella, is the holder of the Ellen Auerbach Award (2008) granted by the Akademie der Künste (Academy of the Arts) in Berlin and short-listed & exhibited for the Terry O’Neil Award of Contemporary Photography in the UK (2008). Sabella’s international shows include: Neighbors in Dialogue (Istanbul, Turkey 2007 and Sarajevo, Bosnia 2008), Gates of the Mediterranean (Rivoli, Italy, 2008), Palestine, La Création Dans Tous Ses Etats, Institut du Monde Arabe & the National Museum of Bahrain (Paris 2009), Deconstructing Myths & Realties, Gallery Caprice Horn, Berlin, NOW - Contemporary Art of the 21st Century, Phillips De Pury (London 2009) and Award Month, Akademie der Künste (Berlin 2010). Sabella is also one of the commissioned artists for the inauguration of the Arab Museum of Modern Art due to open in Qatar in Dec 2010. He holds a BA in Visual Arts from the State University of New York, an MA from the University of Westminster and an MA from Sotheby’s Institute of Art. Steve Sabella’s works have been collected by Ars Aevi museum in Sarajevo and leading collectors in the Middle East including the Barjeel Art Foundation in Sharjah, UAE.
Born in Jerusalem, Larissa Sansour (b.1973) studied Fine Art in Copenhagen, London and New York, and earned her MA from New York University. Her work is interdisciplinary, immersed in the current political dialogue and utilizes video art, digital photography, experimental documentary and the internet. Sansour’s work has been exhibited worldwide in galleries, museums as well as film festivals.Her most notable shows include the Tate Modern in London, UK, the National Museum of Queen Sofia in Madrid, Spain, Arken Musem of Modern Art in Denmark and the Busan Biennial in Korea. Sansour was also part of the 11th International Istanbul Biennial in 2009 and is currently included in the Liverpool Biennial.
Born in Gaza in 1967, Taysir Batniji graduated from the Ecole de Beaux-Arts de Marseille. Adopting a multidisciplinary approach to his work through painting, assembling of objects, installation, photography, video, and performance art, his artwork offers a distant conceptual observation of the political and historical events that have shaped his country as well as subjectivity in regards to their resulting impact on humanity. His past shows include Witte de With (solo), the 2007 Sharjah Biennial, the 2003 Havana Biennial and the 2009 Palestine C/o Venice Pavillion at the Venice Biennial. His works are included in many public collections including the Georges Pompidou Centre, Paris, Neuflize Fondation, Paris, Villa Bernasconi, Lancy, Nadour and F.N.A.C (Fond Nationale d’Art Contemporain), Paris, among others.
Born in Jerusalem in 1978, Bashar Hroub holds a bachelor’s degree in Fine Art from An-Najah National University in Nablus and an MFA from the Winchester School of Art, University Southampton, UK. His work uses a variety of media including painting, drawing, photography, installation, video and graffiti all within a conceptual frame that utilizes the Universal notions of place, human attachment and relationship to one’s environment. Solo exhibitions include 'Horizon' at the A.M.Qattan Foundation in Ramallah in 2003, 'Shrqiat' which was shown at the Alhlaj Gallery in Ramallah and the Peace Center in Bethlehem in 2005 and 'Monologue' at the Almahatta Gallery in Ramallah. He lives and works in Ramallah.
Charlotte Bank is an independent curator, researcher and writer living and working between Berlin and Damascus. Her work focuses on contemporary cultural and artistic practices in the Arab world and its Diaspora. She has curated exhibitions, film and video programs in Europe and the Middle East and publishes regularly in international media, both on- and off-line.
About Green Art Gallery
Green Art Gallery was founded in 1995 and was amongst the first galleries to exhibit Arab art in Dubai. The Gallery became a primary establishment to nurture the city's earliest art collector base by promoting pioneering artists from across the Middle East and North Africa. In 2008, leveraging its long and rich history in the market, Green Art Gallery also began to represent and showcase contemporary artists from the region. In this manner the Gallery would become one of the few spaces whose knowledge and expertise has spanned the Arab art movement from modernism and will continue to promote the newest tendencies in the regional contemporary art practices.
Green Art Gallery aims to become not only an exhibition space, but also as a supporter and point of reference for the regional trends in modern and contemporary art practices.