Conceptual Framework

Within the third Qalandiya International general thematic of ‘This Sea is Mine’ and its implied notions of ‘return’ in the Palestinian context, curator Vivien Ziherl’s ‘Before and After Origins’ exhibition programme explored ‘return’ from the Jerusalem perspective with the two-part exhibition "Before" and "After". While forced Palestinian exile of 1948 may be considered the origin of Return, the category of ‘origins’ is itself questioned throughout the exhibition, contouring the relations of modernity, colonisation, property and territorial belonging.

Works from over thirty artists and cultural heritage collections were presented across six venues in the New Gate neighbourhood of Jerusalem’s old city. The exhibition ‘Before’ at Al Ma’mal considers the power of narratives of origin, while the dispersed venues of ‘After’ stake a refusal of separation. Together these two parts reflect upon the ongoing project of the Return and its deep significance to the global condition.


Al Ma'mal (The Tile Factory)

The exhibition "Before" at Al Ma’mal examines the archaeological question of origins, starting with two

significant bodies of Palestinian cultural heritage that are themselves unable to return. One is a 6th

century mosaic, removed from the Naqab desert after WWI and permanently cemented into the

Australian War Memorial, here reconsidered in the work of artist Tom Nicholson. The other is the

extensive amulets collection of physician, ethnographer and renowned late-Ottoman Jerusalemite

Tawfic Canaan, now in the care of the Birzeit University Museum.

The motif of the shell emerges among other artists’ works and archival contributions, such as

Bethlehem engraved shells from the collection of George Al Ama, conjuring the deep connection of coastal and interior lands and invoking the Qalandiya International title of ‘The Sea is Mine’.


Al Ma’mal Rooftop

Gallery Anadiel

Shop #35

Old Commercial Press 

The exhibition ‘After’ stakes a claim for the refusal of separation, and a deeply held demand for ongoing connection; to families, to lands, to ways of life, and to priorities other than those that fuel ongoing colonialisms. In this work it reaches out also to a global scope of practice. In part this is informed in connection to the project Frontier Imaginaries which examines what it calls “settler regionalism”; a non-geographic region of settler states such as Australia, New Zealand, Israel, the United States, Canada and South Africa that are alike in their structure and connected at the government level, but whose localised social projects are separated by vast distance. One of the efforts of the project is to activate the inherent mobility and the resources of contemporary art in order to stage connections between these dispersed but deeply relevant struggles.

The Jerusalem Show VIII

Before and After Origins
6 – 31 October 2016

Curated by Vivian Ziherl

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