Some of them were warnings to civilians to evacuate their homes. Some were political caricatures. All were propaganda and psychological warfare. They dropped hundreds of thousands of flyers that summer. They dropped bombs too. I was fascinated by the caricature drawings and found myself getting through that long hot summer by doodling on the flyers I was collecting from the abandoned parking lot every time I took my dog, Tapi, on her bathroom excursions. Maya’s mom warned me that they could be laced with poison, but I took my chances nevertheless. You see, I really couldn’t help it… the paper they were printed on was pink.
I often find myself thinking about my neighbor across the border that drew this flyer. Re-appropriating the flyer has been an essential healing process for me. The characters now find themselves in a new scenario; where love, music and tranquility replace violence, fear and despair. Did the über intelligent Israeli propaganda machine think that an image like this would compel Lebanese to turn against Hassan Nasrallah?
I wonder, in secret, if this flyer produced any converts.
Zena el Khalil's new body of work is based on the July 2006 Israeli invasion of Lebanon and the present condition of Palestine. This month and a half long exhibition features five large-scale mixed media paintings, together with a thematic series of smaller hand-sown fabric collages. Also, opening the journey to the viewer is a multi-media rotating sculpture. Her choice of materials and subject matter derives directly from her surroundings. Her source of inspiration is the cultural clash in which she lives in; the coexistence and schizophrenia of the melting pot of the Middle East: Beirut. While creating “Ou Ali Mama3ou Khabar…” el Khalil focused on a specific object; a flyer that was dropped by Israeli warplanes during their siege of Lebanon in 2006. Her work is a reaction to that invasion as well as the politics of her geographic region. Somehow, through the use of irony and humor, el Khalil finds that working with this image relieves her from the emotional and physical pain experienced during the invasion. The work becomes a form of catharsis, as if with each piece made, el Khalil ingests the negative and churns it into something very far removed from the actual experience. She makes peace with the place that she lives in by taking ownership of the images and emotions violently imposed on her and her community. The large-scale works contain fragments of the instability of contemporary Middle East. Through the juxtaposition of materials and images, el Khalil finds herself bringing up political questions to light. There are snippets of an Abu Ghraib victim who was tortured by electrocution, toy Kalashnikovs, young soldiers and macho macho men going off to war. El Khalil revisits these images with her signature use of glitter, beads, boa feathers and pink and gold fabrics.
Four years after the summer invasion, el Khalil finds herself in a familiar setting: the world cup frenzy has again taken over Beirut and her neighbors south of the border have again been misbehaving. Her smaller fabric collages are a reflection of the current political situation. El Khalil asked herself the following, “If the Israelis dropped bombs and flyers on us, what could I drop in return?” Her decision was to drop goods and items that Israel has banned from Gaza through the blockade. As el Khalil is currently unable to rent a plane and fly it over Occupied Palestine, she opted to create, hand-sown artworks highlighting the same banned items. She is also currently considering building a flotilla of her own. The boats would be bright pink, of course.
Opening hours: Mon-Fri from 11am - 7pm
Saturday by appointment only
For more info:
Espace Kettaneh Kunigk, firstname.lastname@example.org