25 January - 24 February, 2017
Al Ma’mal, 8 Al Jawalida St., New Gate
Gallery Anadiel, 20 Freres St. New Gate
“…and that was when the place died out and became void,
then the space chased after me.”
Hussein al-Barghouti, The Rose Stone
Instead of the possibility of some natural scenery, within the geometry that holds the place captive, there is nothing but the walls and locked facades that have laid siege to the city. These walls and facades cut across the images of the landscape, and then supersede it amidst a systematic visual violence based on maddening repetition. Identical blocks of cement and piles of stone attack the area, while the space, in its scattered existence, looks all the time as if it has lost its final battle with the place. The place itself resembles a heavy rock carrying the burden of emptiness.
The city breathes in and out, exhausted, beneath an artificial architectural pattern that keeps cloning these contrived buildings with their appearance of belligerent gestures. Maintaining a relationship with itself founded on intensity and unrest, the city tries to dominate and dictate a material presence that renounces mother nature, gradually chasing her away from any identification with the place. To encounter some green fields is an unexpected surprise. Such a deracination of nature is merely an ugly façade to a harsher deracinating, in the form of a social and psychological uprooting which accompanies the reshaping of the place.
Between seeking fortune and flaunting it, two different types of structures emerge: residential and commercial edifices compete to snatch the space from the past. Apart from their capitalist raison d’être, these buildings have no meaning; the villas are copies of a colonialist architecture, implicitly acknowledging the latter’s superiority. Such a relationship not only shakes up the topography of the place but also deprives it of its future as a homeland. Meanwhile, all the concrete and stone have not rendered the reality of the place any more solid than the dream of it has.
Explaining this space has become impossible.
Construction transfigures into destruction and progress into degeneration. The city denies itself within a circle of delusion, bidding farewell to a set of societal values and principles that might otherwise have joined its parts together and articulated something real out of the notion of an abstract affiliation with the place. Such deprivation is accompanied and maintained by an erosion of knowledge and of perception, and the weakening of the human being, as he disavows his origins in a feverish struggle to resemble the other.
In Free Fall, the place is liberated from its geographical properties, becoming a transparent reflection of our essence. The place is a mirror, there is no escape from oneself.
In light of our living, collective experience in which we examine our relationship with the place, this exhibition is an attempt to prosecute the absurd, and a gesture at the comic repulsion between a narrative that proclaims to develop and empower and actions that are complicit in maintaining the destruction and abandonment. There is now no escape from the schizophrenia of this place and of its society’s morals, which it designed itself, or perhaps messed up.
Free Fall is a colourful equivocation; it aims to restore beauty and delight to buildings that had made a contract with the notion of livelihood in order to achieve only the mere act of living. Free Fall is also a brutal acknowledgement of the ghostliness of reality, lest our awareness of the place drowns in nostalgia. It is also an optical suggestion, referring to a city that chases after and swallows man, or rejects him and sends him into internal exile. Is this really where we have come to in our pursuit of civilization?
Bashir Qonqar (1980), is a Palestinian self-taught artist currently living and working in Beit Jala. After pursuing his education in Hildenheim, Germany and living abroad for more than 7 years, he returned to his hometown in 2008. When Bashir was still a child, his father was killed during the First Intifada, which has had a profound impact on his artistic practice and perspective on his surroundings.
Bashir works at the Children's Relief Bethlehem (Caritas Baby Hospital) in the PR department and has previously taught fine art at Dar Al Kalima College of Arts and Culture. He participated in various national and international exhibitions and workshops including Germany, Italy, USA, Andorra, Sweden, Belgium, France, and South Africa.