After a Long Delay, the Palestinian Museum Debuts With a Star-Studded Show About Jerusalem

Curator Reem Fadda's show fills the building that had sat empty for 15 months.

The Palestinian Museum in Birzeit. Courtesy The Palestinian Museum.

The Palestinian Museum in Birzeit—located just north of Jerusalem, in the West Bank—is opening its inaugural show this Sunday after a 15-month delay. The museum’s $24 million building was completed in May 2016, and has stood empty ever since due to internal disagreements between the board and the museum’s former director and Sharjah Art Foundation founding director Jack Persekian, who resigned in December 2015.

Now, the inaugural opening that replaced Persekian’s initial proposal is taking place according to schedule. The exhibition is curated by Reem Fadda, the former ­associate curator for Middle Eastern art at the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, and curator of the 2016 Marrakech Biennale, who also spearheaded the UAE’s national pavilion at the 2012 Venice Biennale.

Fadda’s show, titled “Jerusalem Lives,” explores the role of Jerusalem as a global city and features works by nearly 50 artists including Oscar Murillo, Ruanne Abou Rahme & Basel Abbas, Maria Thereza Alves, Mona Hatoum, Iman Issa, Emily Jacir, Khaled Jarrar, and Adrián Villar Rojas.

In an interview with the UAE edition of The National, Fadda explains that the exhibition will tackle the difficult, politically fraught reality of the city through an ambitious thesis postulating that Jerusalem is both the original globalized city, as well as the harbinger of the end of globalization.

“It breaks my heart because I see it as a dead city, and emotionally, I don’t know to deal with that,” she told the paper.

According to The National, the core of the exhibition is a cacophonous, labyrinthine projection space displaying numerous sound and video installations. The idea behind this presentation is to recreate the chaos and noise of the holy city.

“Jerusalem Lives” will be on view in the Palestinian Museum, Birzeit, from August 27-December 15, 2017.


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