|Al-Ma’mal Historical Background
Al-Ma’mal Foundation for contemporary art was established in 1998. It was registered as a not-for-profit society in accordance with the Societies Law in Israel on 25 May 1998 under the registration number 58-031-836-8. Its creation came as a development to the work that Anadiel Gallery pioneered since its establishment in 1992.
Anadiel gallery started as the first and only independent art gallery in Palestine. Timed with the beginning of the peace process Anadiel doubled as both a permanent exhibition space for Palestinian artists and an address/reference point for all those who wanted to make contact with local artists. It was actually the renewed interest in the Palestinian people and their affairs which was brought about by the extensive media coverage of the Intifada that gave the gallery a more important role than just selling art and making money. The idea of the gallery started with a commercial underpinning as basis, but this idea soon came face to face with the dire economic reality and had to be aborted. Hence, the decision to close the gallery down or keep it running was not up to a simple profit and loss calculation but to more important considerations, such as providing a venue and an opportunity for local artists to present their work, possibility of accessing venues, events and exhibitions abroad through contacts established by the gallery, and prospect of securing financial assistance (even though little) for art projects to happen. It was actually the latter consideration that gradually led to launching the project of hosting foreign artists in Palestine, initiating exchange programs and residencies abroad, and securing needed financial assistance to continue the work of the gallery. Contact with the international art scene and exposure to varied ideas and experiences re-energized the young generation of artists and provided the fertile soil for jumpstarting the local art scene which came in to break the stale and stagnant art atmosphere. with bold and daring new ideas that somehow shook the foundations of the dominant old-guard aesthetics.
The gallery started a project of hosting Palestinian artists living in the Diaspora, some of whom had never been to Palestine. Having had secured foreign nationalities and passports, these artists were able to visit, of course as tourists. This project was financially possible by the artists’ respective governments. Mona Hatoum, Nasser Soumi, Samir Srouji, Jumana El-Husseini, and Susan Hijab were among the artists hosted. Very interesting discourse ensued between the visiting and local artists on issues of representation, questions of identity and modernity, and more tangible concerns of articulation and relationship to the land and the popular imagery and national iconography. The wind of change which cut across all aspects of life, brought about much needed reflection, revisiting predominant dogmas and setting off a new effort to break down the stereotypes and reductive categories that are so limiting to human thought and expression.
Anadiel gallery was a private initiative which did not qualify for significant funding from international organizations. Yet its function was quite visible and needed, and an expansion of its capabilities and resources was imperative to open up to artists from all over the world, provide them with the means and resources to visit Jerusalem and produce works that are in dialogue with the place and time. Hence a group of artists, architects and active individuals in the cultural scene got together and established Al-Ma’mal Foundation with the main aim to promote, instigate, disseminate and make art in Palestine. They envisioned Al-Ma’mal as a catalyst for the realization of art projects with local and visiting artists, giving at the same time special attention to working with youth and children. Al-Ma’mal, situated itself in the Old City of Jerusalem, and is currently running three programs; the Artist-in-Residence, the Workshops program, the Communication and Outreach Program, and the CAMP (Contemporary Art Museum – Palestine) project.
Al-Ma'mal: Arabic word meaning Workshop/Small Factory. This name was chosen cause the initial home of the foundation was supposed to be in a traditional handmade floor-tiles factory founded in the old city of Jerusalem in 1900. It operated up to 1975 when it had to close down due to automation and the import of cheaper products. The building is falling apart and we still await funding to renovate it and move into it. It is known by the local inhabitants of the neighborhood as “Al-Ma’mal” and that’s where we got the name and why we kept it.
Board of Directors
Issa Kassisieh- Chairman
Jack Persekian - Founder
Jumana Emil Abboud - Director
Lara Khaldi - Curator (The Jerusalem Show 2012)
Katya Garcia-Anton - Curator (The Jerusalem Show 2012)
Khadijeh Kanambo - Project Coordinator
Elias Habash - Office Manager
Francis Tams - Financial Manager
Walid Abu Ghousheh - Technician
Andreas Kriechbaum - Civil Servent
Pauline de Laboulaye – CAMP advisor
Issa Freij - Director of Photography
Silja Bekeng - Writer
Lena Sobeh, Palitra – Graphic Design
Studio Alpha – Printing & Binding