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Abed Abdi:A Place – a Visual Memory, a Sound, and the Taste of a Scent

This is my second experience in curating the huge creative project in which fifty Arab and Jewish artists, and two other artists from Germany, are taking part this year. The project is held as part of the annual tradition initiated by Ethos – The Municipal Association for Art, Culture and Sport, in collaboration with the Beit Hagefen Arab Jewish Center, and the Wadi al-Nisnas Committee – the Arab neighborhood that has hosted this project continuously since 1994.

 

 For this summary it is necessary to make a retrospective review of events since the beginning of the project, in terms of the response of huge numbers of artists – both men and women – to take part in the project, and to provide suggestions suited to the proposed rationale: “A Place – Memory and Connections”, which the participants viewed as a subjective commitment to evoke the event, and reconstruct what had been stored in their fertile and secluded subjective memories.

 In summarizing the memory of the event from beginning to end, I must return to the unique quantity of works offered, all distinguished by their profound view-point and perspective, their techniques and anecdotes saturated with subjective factors complying with the requirements.

 This experience went beyond the mere placing of artistic works within the urban space in this deep-rooted place, to the internal and emotional participation, also expressed by the use of raw materials such as ceramics and iron, alongside direct painting on walls, and the use of mosaic stones, all of which represent a reconstruction of the cultural and historical presence of Haifa’s landmarks and archeological and historical values, such as those in the Castra area at the western entrance into Haifa, the murals at the Mar Elias Monastery, and in the old Churches of the lower city, along with the wrought-iron works that are the heritage of the Middle-East and other places.

 The artistic works displayed in the urban area were created jointly by five artists working with metal, iron and bronze. Irit Segal-Israeli, Miri Sela, Orit Finegold, Aviva Shemer, and Lilly Feder.

 In the Sculpture/Ceramics department, there was also a strong showing of female participants including the following artists: Mervat Eisa, Natalia Diatlov, Wardeh Khater, Nava Shoshani, and Miri Fleischer. Alongside them participated ten women from the neighborhood, who designed a mural made of ceramic in memory of the late artist Haia Tuma, who had been contributing her artistic works for many years, for the benefit of the residents of the place.

 

Creative Retrospectives: Evoking an Image of the Memory of the Place

 

In the windows of an abandoned house, Miri Fleischer displayed “block” tableaux made of clay and ancient porcelain objects, and fragments of Palestinian jars in the simple neighborhood, in order to reassemble them and melt them down, thus reconstructing the subjective and collective memory. Nava Shoshani presented panels of the “Tzabar” cactus made of burned clay in the form of a clothesline, as a visual dialogue and an ongoing eternal dialogue with the clay.

 Meriva Eisa presented a unique work consisting of a ceramic facade containing Arabesque elements, as an evocation of a dried-up water channel, using motifs of the classic Islamic city whose outline has been lost.

 Likewise, Saher Mia’ari also displays a painting containing three views of coastal cities, as an evocation of a nostalgic memory full of longing and compassion.

That is also the case with the motifs presented by Haya Gal On. In her work she confronts images of her relatives from South Africa with a Palestinian family from Kfar Rama, in which she searches for the shared and separating lines between them.

 Asad Ozi, Michael Hallaq and Fahed Halabi and other artists showing their work in the Art Gallery, deal with the dialogue of the body, and reconstruct the emotion of a moral position, as in the Latin statement ” Ecce Homo” – “Behold the man”! The map of the Pacific Ocean with the clothesline stretched over it, is a special embodiment of connection, and the grid at the edges of the world, and its desired unity, by Eiman Abu Hmaid. Shmuel Pe’er is inspired by the eternity of the individual’s struggle to win superiority and achieve the best (mural).

 The combined creative ceramic work of the artists Orna Yezra’eli and Ofra Amikam (a tableau), is displayed by illuminated holes inside small boxes which can be viewed through a microscope with electrical elements. There they present family photos on a background of the Arab villages in the Galilee, and other displays.

 It might be difficult to conduct a comprehensive review of what the artists have produced and displayed, both in the Art Gallery and in the neighborhood, because that would require a detailed study. However, the initial conclusion on the overall scene is that through their shared meeting and creation it is possible to build the tools and a solid basis for dialogue, and to light a candle in the darkness of this tunnel, and to spread the experience of creation and the social texture of this deep-rooted neighborhood into other regions; because this coastal city is famous for its typographical beauty connecting the port with the dark green heights of Mount Carmel forever.

 

Abid Abdi – Project Curator

Haifa 18.11.09

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