The independent London newspaper

Gaza’s ‘cry for recognition’

11 August, 2017 — By John Evans

Untitled, artwork by Basel El Maqusi, born Gaza City 1971. ‘Artist and freelance photographer. He was awarded the Charles Asprey Award to Palestinian artists, was shortlsted for the AM Qattan Foundation’s Artist of the Year Award and spent one month art residency in Bangalore, India… ‘Because of the closure imposed over the Gaza Strip Basel could not participate in seven international art workshops in Europe and Arab countries’

THE work of five Gaza artists is to feature in a unique show in London from August 18 to 28.

The organisers, P21 Gallery, based in Chalton Street, King’s Cross, say a feature of the installation will be live, two-way, presentations with question and answer sessions with the artists, directly from Gaza, via satellite.

We All Live in Gaza: Art Under Siege will include works by Maysa Yousef, Malak Mattar, Basel El Maqusi, Laila Kassab and Ayman Mghamis.

P21 says: “From inside the blockade of Gaza to the OXO Tower Wharf Courtyard, Art Under Siege tells the story of Gaza artists, writers and performers caught in a conflict not of their making, today living in limbo with an unknown future. It is a story told with original artworks, words, photography, and video, all merged into an architecturally self-contained installation designed to involve viewers, physically, intellectually and emotionally, bringing them immediately into the story.

“In Gaza the walls tell no lies. As one walks the streets there is a barrage of images. These tell a contemporary history. A history that is fragile and tenuous. For artists creating in their bedrooms, tiny studios and on the canvases of walls and rubble, their visions reflect a transient moment in history…

“The artwork is being created for historical documentation, as a cry for recognition.”

Show curator and journalist Maurice Jacobsen, who lived and worked there in 2012-2013, says: “In Gaza there is street art everywhere… The work speaks as eloquently as any essay or news report.

“As the physical situation inside Gaza deteriorates, as the emotional and mental state of the men, women, and children is pushed to the ultimate limits, it is the creation of this work that gives meaning to many lives.”

P21 says: “Art Under Siege has been created to preserve and disseminate this work, and to bring it to an international audience beyond the walls and barbed wire that separate Gaza from the remainder of the world.”

Visitors to the OXO courtyard will find eight architectural structures.

In six smaller domes there will be the work of the artists along with a media kiosk. In a video they can learn about each artist and the conditions under which they are working.

The organisers say two additional structures will contain a small marketplace where original artwork and reproductions will be available along with Palestinian merchandise such as teas and olive oils.

That space will also be used for lectures, discussions, and music performances.

• We All Live in Gaza: Art Under Siege is at the OXO Tower Wharf Courtyard, South Bank, SE1 9PH from August 18 to 28 and admission will be free. It is supported by Inshallah Media Project, London, Nazareth; The Media Group, Gaza City, Rebuilding Alliance, San Francisco; and We Are Not Numbers, Washington DC and Gaza City.


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