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ArtSchool Palestine

Contributed by This Week In Palestine on 03.10.2007:

ArtSchool Palestine is a structure and place for the exchange and development of contemporary Palestinian art.

The constant and persistent attempt to deny the existence of Palestine at all levels means that artists, along with all Palestinians, suffer a great deal of isolation. ArtSchool Palestine was founded in 2005 by a group of like-minded arts professionals – the A. M. Qattan Foundation, Visiting Arts, the British Council, Sacha Craddock, Samar Martha, Charles Asprey, Camilla Canellas, Ann Jones, and Khalil Rabah – to create a permanent and effective forum and a virtual platform through which exchange and discussion about contemporary art can flow. The goal of the organisation is to actively support contemporary practices and extend its reach as far as possible.

ArtSchool Palestine aims specifically to provide information on opportunities, exhibitions, and events; to initiate exchange programmes and residencies for artists; to develop networks; to stimulate critical debate; and to showcase contemporary art activity from Palestine, the Middle East, and its Diaspora.

Program of activities

Website: In February 2005, the ArtSchool Palestine website,, was launched – a virtual space that promotes Palestinian contemporary art and provides an on-line resource for information on opportunities, residencies, exhibitions, symposia, and events.

Exhibitions: Since 2005, ArtSchool Palestine has supported and organised various exhibitions in the UK and Palestine. During June 2005, Base Camp Balata – an exhibition of photographs taken by children from Balata Refugee Camp near Nablus – was held at Spitz Gallery in London. During January 2006, ArtSchool Palestine facilitated a virtual studio project between students from Chelsea College of Art & Design and young artists in the West Bank. Without leaving their home bases, students and artists worked collaboratively over the Internet on an exhibition in each location. As if by Magic, a group exhibition by 27 international contemporary artists at the Bethlehem Peace Centre in September 2006 (curated by Charles Asprey and Kay Pallister), featured work by Damien Hirst, Lawrence Weiner, Daniel Buren, and Ian Hamilton Finlay, among others. Khalil Rabah’s installation, 50,320 Names (part of his ongoing “Palestinian Museum of Natural History and Humankind” project), was showcased at Brunei Gallery, London, during January 2007. This Day, a series of short films and video works by international artists, was presented at the Tate Modern in London, in May 2007. The series features work by 40 artists from Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Palestine, and Syria, in addition to that of artists from Europe and the United States.

Film Festivals: ArtSchool Palestine recognises that film is an important means of cultural expression for contemporary Palestine and has played a major role in supporting the presentation of films from and about Palestine. Eight Palestinian filmmakers were supported by ArtSchool Palestine to participate in the 2005 Kerry International Film Festival in Ireland. In addition, ArtSchool Palestine supported the 2006 and 2007 Palestine Film Festivals at the Barbican Centre, London. The two-week film festival is the largest event of its kind in Europe and showcases more than 40 films on Palestine. Art, fiction, documentary, and experimental work by artists from across the world are screened alongside panel discussions, question-and-answer sessions, and book talks.

Support for Arts Organizations in Palestine: ArtSchool Palestine has facilitated several donations of much-needed books and equipment to key arts organisations in Palestine. Seven digital cameras were donated to various centres in Palestine – to be made available to artists who wish to use them. The centres that received donations include Khalil Al Sakakini Cultural Centre, Palestinian Association for Contemporary Arts, Young Artists Forum, and The International Centre of Bethlehem (Dar Al Nadwa).

In the absence of art education in most schools in Palestine, the Young Artists Forum (Ramallah) provides art classes and a meeting place for young pupils interested in art and design. The Young Artists Forum received the Asprey Award for 2006 in the form of books and art materials. In addition, Birzeit University Library received 500 art books, worth £ 7,000, which form a nucleus for the establishment of the first art library in Palestine.

Residencies: Artist-in-residency opportunities in other countries and locations are an important way for Palestinian artists to focus on their work, to meet other artists and curators, and to extend their networks. ArtSchool Palestine has organised three residencies for Palestinian artists at host organisations in the UK. Filmmaker and photographer, Mohanad Al Yacoubi from Ramallah, was artist-in-residence at Delfina Studios, London, during August and September 2005. The Palestinian photographer, Ahlam Shibli, was supported by ArtSchool Palestine and Delfina Studios with a three-week residency during March 2006 to complete a photographic project that was exhibited at the 2006 Sao Paulo Biennale. Rafat Asad, a young painter from Ramallah, was artist-in-residence at Delfina Studios, London, from June to September 2006. Shadi Habib Allah, from Jerusalem, was artist-in-residence at Gasworks Studios, London, from October to December 2006.

The Second Riwaq Biennale in Palestine: ArtSchool Palestine is delighted to be working in partnership with Riwaq, UNESCO, and Birzeit University on the realisation of the Second Riwaq Biennale in Palestine. This unique event will be an extraordinary and unprecedented assembly in the heart of the West Bank that brings together internationally renowned artists, architects, conservationists, planners, fine art curators, thinkers, theorists, and practitioners in an attempt to re-connect isolated and walled Palestine to the world scene.

On this occasion, and under the auspices of the Second Riwaq Biennale, ArtSchool Palestine is organising a series of events.

1. An art exhibition, Pure Consciousness, by renowned international artist, On Kawara, will take place on October 23, 2007, at Dar Al Kalima College, Bethlehem.

2. ArtSchool Palestine invited twenty renowned artists, art critics, curators, and museum directors to attend the Biennale. An art workshop/tour is being organised to acquaint the Biennale guests with the Palestinian contemporary art scene. The aim of the tour is to set in motion projects and ideas that will be realised during 2007 and 2008. The goals are to bring about an exposure to new and diverse ideas as well as to provide a learning experience for local heritage professionals, architects, and artists.

3. Video art installation will feature Palestinian artists on October 19, 2007, at Al Halaj Gallery


This Week in Palestine

October 2007

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