Emily Jacir: Europa

The Whitechapel Gallery is showing works by Palestinian artist Emily Jacir this autumn, focusing  on her dialogue with Europe, Italy and the Mediterranean.

The exhibition will last from 30 September 2015 to 3 January 2016. One of the highlights of the show is Material for a film, for which she won the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale in 2007.

This large-scale, immersive installation is based on the life of Palestinian writer Wael Zuaiter who was assassinated near his home in Rome, Italy, by Israeli Mossad agents in 1972. Jacir reimagines chapters of Zuaiter’s life through materials unearthed by the artist including family photographs, correspondence and documents relating to his assassination. Jacir’s own photographs, writings, sound works and interviews she conducted form the central component of the project and present her journey to find Zuaiter through the traces he left behind.

Jacir was recently interviewed by Democracy Now at the Venice Biennale. She speaks about her work stazione (2008-2009), where she “translated the names of each vaporetto station along Route 1 on the Grand Canal into Arabic, and proposed to place them alongside the existing Italian signs to create a bilingual transportation route through the city” as a way to explore the shared heritage Venice shared with the Arab world. As she described however, the project “failed” in that it was accepted but never realised. 

Jacir speaks about Material For A Film, and her piece titled “Memorial to 418 Palestinian Villages Destroyed, Depopulated, and Occupied by Israel in 1948,” and how it became a social space through the work of embroidering of a large refugee tent with the names of 418 Palestinians villages. Finally, she talks about “ex libris” commemorating the approximately 30,000 books from Palestinian homes, libraries and institutions looted by Israeli authorities in 1948. At the end, she talks about her future projects about translation and “who gets to name things.”

From Ex Libris. Source.

From Ex Libris. Source.

I’ve previously mentioned her work Where Do We Come From here. 

Jacir speaks about her work alongside five other artists at the 92nd Street Y. 

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