An open window to Ramallah, a few streets away from Kensington, London


Noor Abu Arafeh, The Mosaic Rooms

Noor Abu Arafeh’s, Observational Desire on a Memory that Remains, video still, Suspended Accounts, The Mosaic Rooms, London


The Mosaic Rooms brings the work of six Palestinian artists to London with the exhibition ‘Suspended Accounts’, hosted on the premises of the A.M. Qattan Foundation in Earls Court, and curated by Viviana Checchia. The exhibition, featuring a selection of the artists participating in the YAYA Prize 2014, can be seen as the next step in the project, which presents a generation of young artists, all under 30 years old, to an international art audience, and at the same time re-affirms the process-based nature intimately connected to the artworks in the show.


Suspended Account, The Mosaic Rooms

Suspended Accounts, Young Artists of the Year Award 2014, The Mosaic Rooms, London. Photo by Andy Stagg


The Young Artist of the Year Award (YAYA) is one of the few art prizes that encourages and supports the development of emerging artists from Palestine, through a biennial programme organized by the A.M. Qattan Foundation, an independent, not for profit organization, active in the field of culture and education in the territory since 1998. This eighth edition of the prize focuses on the involvement of the selected artists in a long term project rather than in a single show, and has generated a mutual engagement of artists and curator, who developed their work through on-line forums, discussions and group sessions, and the support of various international art practitioners.

Exploring the potentiality of the archive in the art practice, the exhibition results in an open laboratory, where the artists attempt to put together the pieces of a complex yet incomplete identity, activating a process of Self-Historicisation as a strategy of re-appropriation of their Palestinian heritage against the threat of oblivion. As a starting point each artist establishes a connection with evidence from the past, according to their own individual practice and experience.


Bashar Khalaf, The Mosaic Rooms

Bashar Khalaf, A Shadow of the Shadow, oil on canvas, Suspended Accounts, The Mosaic Rooms, London. Photo by Andy Stagg


Bashar Khalaf uses a traditional medium to build a dialogue between two generations of Palestinian artists. By placing his re-interpretations alongside the original paintings by Suleiman Mansour – a well known representative of the art of the region between 1970 and 1990 – he creates a continuity with his vision, but also introduces elements of contingency, reflecting the transition to a contemporary condition.

The attempt of seeking a connection with the artists who have preceded them most often requires a different approach, as a large part of Palestinian art is not documented. Noor Abu Arefeh’s video installation Observational Desire on a Memory that Remains represents an attempt of creating an alternative art history by translating undocumented artwork into the medium of film, shaping their features from storytelling, newspaper clippings and reviews. The outcome of this re-representation is adding another dimension to an uncertain image from the past, filling the gap with the imagination. Similarly, Iman Al Sayed explores her lost identity through the memories of her father, assembling these renewed narratives – both real and imaginary – in Re-Repeat, a mixed media installation featuring personalized evidences addressed to different perceivers.


Noor Abu Arafeh, The Mosaic Rooms

Noor Abu Arafeh, Observational Desire on a Memory that Remains, video still, Suspended Accounts, The Mosaic Rooms, London

Iman Al Sayed, The Mosaic Rooms

Iman Al Sayed, Re-repeat, mixed media installation, Suspended Accounts, The Mosaic Rooms, London. Photo by Andy Stagg


The immateriality of memory is at the base of Noor Abed and Farah Saleh’s work. Abed’s video installation Penelope refers to the myth of the Odyssey, presenting the act of sewing as collective and timeless knowledge, which suggests ideas of displacement, homeland and futility. The evocative power of the gesture is here also analysed by Saleh in her interactive video installation A Fidayee Son in Moscow. Recalling her brother’s told stories, the dancer and choreographer re-stages the routine of a normal day in Interdom – a school created in 1933 with the aim of giving an education to children of democratic representatives and activists from all over the world – and invites the public to participate and share the experience enclosed in the gestures in order to understand and live the process of self-historicisation.


Noor Abed, The Mosaic Rooms

Noor Abed’s, Penelope2014, video installation, Suspended Accounts, The Mosaic Rooms, London. Photo by Andy Stagg

Farah Saleh, The Mosaic Rooms

Farah Saleh, A Fidayee Son in Moscow, interactive video dance installation, Suspended Accounts, The Mosaic Rooms, London. Photo by Andy Stagg


This re-discovered awareness of the past is conceived as an act of resistance by Hamody Gannam in his audio installation Wadi Nisnas, probably the most impressive artwork in the show. The artist has committed himself to preserve the collective memories of his neighbourhood, a small Arab district in what remains of the old city of Haifa, that gives the name to his work. Preserved in archival boxes from the effects of a forced forgetfulness, the voices of the local inhabitants, catalogued in Israeli characters, tell in Arabic stories whispered in the narrow streets of a city shifted between contrasting cultures, showing the subtle boundary between presence and absence, and re-affirming once again the importance of the memory in the construction of individual and collective identity.

Suspended Accounts, curated by Viviana Checchia for The Mosaic Rooms is at A.M. Qattan Foundation, London until 27 February 2016


Hamody Gannam, The Mosaic Rooms

Hamody Gannam, Wadi Nisnas, sound installation of archive boxes, Suspended Accounts, The Mosaic Rooms. Photo by Andy Stagg

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by Manu Buttiglione
in Focus on Europe

Wed Development by Digital Art Factory