caption for Image
Detail from House No. 197 Photographic Print 2009

Jawad Al Malhi
House No. 197

Opening 09.10.2017 – 6pm
Putsch Galerie
Exhibition from 10.10 to 13.10.2017
Open from :
Tuesday 10 : 12pm-6pm
Wednesday11 : 12pm-5pm
Thursday 12 : 2pm-5pm +6m-9pm
Friday : 12pm-5pm

In this body of photographic and video work, Al Malhi documents through the seasons and nights and days the transformation of the landscape prompted by the necessity to accommodate the growing Palestinian refugee population. Photographed from the nearby Israeli settlement, the panoramic images reveal the intensely accumulative topographies of the built environment that become a testimony of dislocation. The photographs taken within the confines of the camp expose the narrow passageways and the legacy of waiting and precariousness of daily life, while series of video works highlight how constant temporality has shaped the culture of the refugee camp and vacated time of meaning in which the monotony of endless waiting and control of space takes on new precedence.

Artist Statement

My work explores the site and experience of marginality via the architecture and geography of the refugee camp. It explores the question of marginality by exposing viewpoints and different positions of access to various ‘views’ of the ‘scene’ of the camp. My work focuses on both panoramic views of Shufhat Refugee camp in Jerusalem, taken from the neighbouring Israeli settlement, and images taken from within the interior of the camp, from windows, rooftops and narrow streets. Panoramic views of Jerusalem have historically been dominated by images of the Old City and its Holy places, the panoramic images of the camp offers an alternative scenario, testifying to another reality that is manifest in the ‘promised land’. The observations for this body of work are taken from different positions. Viewpoints from within the camp and my intimate knowledge of its narrow passages and roof tops which are not easily accessible to outsiders, and, in contrast, to the neighbouring Israeli settlement, not accessible to Palestinians, which overlooks the camp, enabling the exploration of the image of camp from the position of an onlooker.

I continually return to this settlement, to this forbidden space, to photograph the place of my childhood games. These are the hills where I used to camp and run wild, I was from ‘the project’ therefore I thought I was someone special, it was only as I grew up that I came to understand the way we were viewed by others that we were outsiders to all and that the only sense of belonging came from within.

My research explores the architectural structures of the camp and its presence and inscription on the landscape. My interest lies in the concrete forms, the haphazard and chaotic structures that speak of aspiration, human impulses and urges of reproduction, and the present reality- the absence of political solution to the question of refugees. My interest lies in exploring the architectural structures of the camp and their continuous transformation which I interpret as physical materialization of the demography and geography of Jerusalem. Concrete particularly draws my attention, the way in which this material is supposed to provide structure and stability, yet in the camp’s architecture it suggests the opposite. This is the case because buildings in the camp derive from necessity. Building is always postponed in the hope of return, however circumstances dictate need, which is reflected in the haphazard built structures. The buildings are never conceived as a whole from ‘beginning to end’, from ‘foundation to rooftop’ but rather are built in piecemeal fashion for temporary use as their occupants wait to leave. This constant temporality has shaped the culture of the camp and the mind set of younger generations, inevitably vacating time of meaning, which I observe in video works.

In my approach it is important not to represent the camp or its inhabitants as victims ; a common stereotype. This led to the development of idea of the large-scale photographs and panoramas in which there is an absence of individuals, yet there is reference to their presence, experience and the geography of place.

This refugee camp is not marked on official maps yet it occupies a space on the outskirts of the city of Jerusalem with a population of 70,000 people. It came into existence in 1965, as a result of a joint agreement between the Jordanian and Israeli government to transfer part of the refugee population who had been living in the old city of Jerusalem to this new camp before their neighbourhood was demolished. 520 families were transferred to 2km (squared) of land. Each was allocated a plot of land 7 x 11 metres of space with one room measuring 2 x 3m. Having been born in the camp and having lived there for over 30 years I have witnessed its transformation. Currently the Partition Wall to encircles the camp and two major checkpoints have been erected over the last year to control all movement into Jerusalem. For me what has become significant is the shrinking of the space, the physical burden of locality, and the transformation in my experience of both the physical and mental distance.

The work in photographs explores the nature of the space and the layers of the built environment, in particular the accumulative and chaotic nature of the space of the camp. This has arisen with the growth in population and the necessity for vertical expansion to accommodate the refugees and Jerusalem ID holders, who have nowhere else to go. Therefore after over decades it is not a surprise to find rickety ten storey buildings in the narrow streets of the camp. The photographs examine this contingent space, its architecture and the large physical presence of the camp characterized by concrete buildings. Through exploration of space my work also explores the experience of claustrophobia and containment within the camp environment.

This question of claustrophobia has led to the study of small groups and their activities by day and by night, observed from different positions. I positioned myself as an observer to record the inhabitants of the camp. As the community of the camp has disintegrated and splintered in relation to their previously shared social values, relations and sense of community its stratification has become more apparent to someone who has lived there for many years. We have been transformed from a community to small collectives who inhabit a space because of circumstance and necessity.

Positioning the camera in different locations of observation I documented how time unfolds and elapses by day and night for the workers of a gas station which is situated on the margins of the camp. The young men who exist on the margin of the margins in the camp in a port -cabin that houses a large petrol tank, petrol being emblematic of the Middle East. The observations reveal their relationships, their interaction with the street, their power relations and control over the geography of the container and their isolation by day and night. Time shows itself to be monotonous, mundane and endless in the confines of the camp in which the control of space takes on a new precedence. This is most evident in the fact this gas station no longer exists, it was burned down by members of the camp, after its owners refused to relocate the container.
The Series House No. 197, has been shown at Venice Biennele (2009) Sharjah Biennele (2009), Liverpool Biennele (2010), Helsinki Photography Biennele (2014), and at Gemak, The Hague, Den Frie, Copenhagen, Maison des Mettoles, Paris, The Imperial War Museum, London, Barjeel Collection, UAE between (2009-2015).

Bio
Al Malhi lives and works in Occupied East Jerusalem and his work over the years has focused on exploring communities, and their relationship to their environments and their everyday practices of life through painting, video, installation, sculpture and photography. Selected group exhibitions include In the Middle of the Middle (curated by Catherine David at Sfeir-Semier Gallery, Beirut) No Man’s Land ? (Gemak, The Hague), the Sharjah Biennal 09, Palestine c/o Venice (curated by Salwa Mikdadi, Venice Biennale, 2009), Ground Floor America (curated by WHW at Den Frie in Copenhagen). Helenski Photography Bienele, Ecological Fallacy/Objects on Oil, (2014), Worldly House, Tribute to Donna Haraway, Documenta 13 (2012). Jerusalem Show, al Mamal Art Foundation (2016), Measures of Uncertainty (Art Dubai, 2016), NSK Pavillion, (Venice Biennale 2017). He was artist in resident at Delfina Foundation with Solo Show of New Works 2010 and Artist in Resident a Mamaus Ecole Lisbon.He was awarded the Accented Residency at the Townhouse Gallery Cairo in 2011, and IASPIS residency in Stockholm 2017. His works are held in private and public collections in Europe and the Middle East, including The British Museum, The Imperial War Museum, London, UK and The Barjeel Collection, UAE.

jawad.malhi@gmail.com


Masterclass with Tina Sherwell
Palestinian Art 1970s to Today : Transformations
Monday 09.10.2017
From 9-11 am

The master class will focus on the history of Palestinian Art, with particular discussion on the transformation of the representation of the homeland and how it has been represented through the work of artists. The issues of how artists have engaged with questions homeland and belonging, loss, exile and alienation and how they engage with representation in the context of continual transformation of the physical landscape but also the changing contexts of art practice itself from under occupation to the current political condition which be explored through the presentation which will discuss a range of art works created between the 1970s to the present day, including poster art, installation, painting video, photography, etc by Palestinian art practitioners.

Bio
Dr. Tina Sherwell graduated from Goldsmiths’ College, She was Director of The International Academy of Art, between 2007-2017. Previously she was Programme Leader of Fine Art at Winchester School of Art, (2005-2007) The author of various texts on Palestinian art published in catalogues, journals and books, including monograph on Sliman Mansour. Curatorial exhibitions include Terrains of Belonging, Retrospective of Sliman Mansour in (2011). Degree Show of The International Academy of Art, Palestine (2011-2016) Disrupted Intimacies, (2015, French German Cultural Centre Ramallah). Forthcoming Exhibitions include Sub- Contracted Nation co-curated with Yazid Anani, (2018, A.M Qattan Foundation) and Intimate Topographies : (2018, The Palestinian Museum) Recent papers and articles include : Nearness and Distance : Cartographies of Contemporary Palestinian Artists Photographic Practices, Photography’s Shifting Terrain (NYUAD 2015), The Curriculum, Creative Time Summit (2015), Time Loop in Palestinian Video Art ; Constellation of the Moving Image, Ed. B. Makhoul. (2013) Curatorial Expeditions : The Ramallah Safari, Stedelijk Museum Journal (2014). She is currently working on the Development of the new Faculty of Art and Music at Birzeit University and Heads the new Visual Art Program and Acting Director of the Birzeit University Museum.


Program of Tina Sherwell and Jawad Al Malhi in Brussels, October 2017

SUNDAY OCTOBER 8TH
Installation in residency ESA Le 75, Avenue Jean-François Debecker,10, 1200 Bruxelles

MONDAY OCTOBER 9TH : erg ; 87 rue du Page, 1050 Bruxelles
9 - 11am : Masterclass with Tina Sherwell, Palestinian Art 1970s to Today : Transformations
followed by visit of Tina of students’ projects
The master class will focus on the history of Palestinian Art, with particular discussion on the transformation of the representation of the homeland and how it has been represented through the work of artists. The issues of how artists have engaged with questions homeland and belonging, loss, exile and alienation and how they engage with representation in the context of continual transformation of the physical landscape but also the changing contexts of art practice itself from under occupation to the current political condition which be explored through the presentation which will discuss a range of art works created between the 1970s to the present day, including poster art, installation, painting video, photography, etc by Palestinian art practitioners.

9 - 6pm : Jawad sets up exhibition in gallery erg with help of students

6 pm : opening exhibition Jawad al Malhi : House No. 197
video and photography
(See above)

TUESDAY OCTOBER 10TH : ESA Le 75, Avenue Jean-François Debecker,10, 1200 Bruxelles
&
WIELS, Avenue Van Volxemlaan 354, 1190 Bruxelles

12.30 am -1.30 pm : ESA Le 75 ; Masterclass with Tina Sherwell and Jawad al Malhi, Presentation of Contemporary Palestinian Art (more information in annex). Followed by a discussion with the students (+ translation if necessary).

7 pm : WIELS ; lecture by Tina Sherwell, Reflections : Contemporary Palestinian Art.

The talk will explore the transformations of Palestinian Art in recent decades, examining the themes and issues that artists have engaged with and the changing context of their practice with particular focus on the practice of Jawad al Malhi.
Followed by a discussion with Tina Sherwell director of International Academy of Art Ramallah and artist Jawad al Malhi (more information in annex)

WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 11TH : LUCA SCHOOL OF ARTS, Koningsstraat 328, 1030 Brussel

5 pm – 7 pm : Masterclass with Tina Sherwell and Jawad al Malhi ; Transformations in Palestinian Art.
The talk will explore the transformations of Palestinian Art in recent decades, examining the themes and issues that artists have engaged with in relationship to the representation of the homeland addressing issues of belonging, loss and alienation and location and the changing context of their practice with particular focus on the practice of Jawad al Malhi (more information in annex). Introduction by Nicola Setari and followed by a Q & A.

THURSDAY OCTOBER 12TH :
More contacts in Belgium – Benelux (Association Belgo-Palestine)

FRIDAY OCTOBER 13TH :
Visit of la Cambre with Raymond Balau / Maurice Pasternak (to be confirmed)
Meeting at Palestinian Embassy (to be filled in)
Deconstruction of Jawad’s exhibition at erg
End of residency at ESA Le 75, welcomed and hosted by Bernadette and Michel de Visscher,
Avenue Jean Accent 15, 1160 Bruxelles


Complementary information about Tina Sherwell’s lecture at Wiels,
October 10, 7 pm

The talk will explore the transformations of Palestinian Art in recent decades, examining the themes and issues that artists have engaged with and the changing context of their practice with particular focus on the practice of Jawad al Malhi. Al Malhi is from Shufhat Refugee Camp in Occupied East Jerusalem and his work over the years has focused on exploring communities, and their relationship to their environments and their everyday practices of life through painting, video, installation, sculpture and photography.

News publiée le 4 octobre 2017