+ Gallery for Contemporary Arts Leipzig (GfZK)
Following the launch of LIMINAL SPACES/ grenzräume in March this year, we are now looking back on 8 months of project work with the artists, which took place under circumstances that have become more difficult, rather than easier. The project has endured a deteriorating political situation in the Middle East, including the Israeli war on Lebanon, which has further radicalized communities and cultural producers alike. Especially the participating Palestinian artists of the project have had to requestion their involvement.
All throughout this project we have had to reiterate and clarify the aim of the project; it is not an attempt at normalisation, and is not there to offer a model for peaceful coexistence between two equal sides, but to reassert the main aims of the project as a platform of resistance and vocal opposition to the on going Israeli occupation and its direct effects on the lives of Palestinians in the West Bank. The project also offers a context in which distinctions between art and politics blurr. in order to challenge the possibilities of art as a catalyst for political and social change and to generate a more active political engagement of the art sector. We feel that the clear political stance of the participants and the curators is the basis for the network Liminal Spaces/ grenzräume offers.
The circumventing circumstances we have endured meant that as curators we had to adjust ourselves to conditions in which it has become almost impossible to conduct simple joint meetings. A series of conceptual and logistical decisions were taken including shelfing our ambition to establish the conference venue in Qalandia as an infrastructure for meetings, lectures and production, due to the ever-increasing level of closure imposed on the Territories.
We are happy that despite all new added difficulties the artists have been determined to continue to work and we can now present a series of new works, examining the condition of everyday space, borders, physical segregation, cultural territories within a reality of occupation. The art works suggest the potential of art being a tool through which to challenge existing systems and power structures within the radically divided and fragmented urban region of Jerusalem/ Ramallah - a laboratory for an urbanism of radical ethnic segregation. Following individual residencies European, Palestinian and Israeli artists embraced the opportunity to research tactics and artistic strategies for addressing the physiognomy of specific sites and their everyday operations and adhering to exposing spatial and contextual politics of the Israeli occupation.
The future library spaces of the Gallery for Contemporary Arts Leipzig (GfZK), including the already acquired shelves of Vito Acconci’s library installation at Documenta 10, provide an unusual exhibition context and generate mutual resonances between LIMINAL SPACES as an evolving archive of research and production in the Middle East and the GfZK’s declared ambition to build up a public library.
WE face crucial questions:
How can this unique body of artistic research be made accessible?
Will there be a continuation of this work?
What responsibility as curators and artists we have taken on, having established this body of work...?
The exhibition gives us the opportunity to meet again at a distance from the researched space, to reflect on the process so far. The meeting outside the region raises new questions regarding the perception of the Middle East and the image of Palestine and Israel in Europe and especially in Germany. These are directly related to the question of responsibility and its meaning an differences in the Middle East and Europe.
We would like to explore political and social responsibilities of art production, discussing current trends that are changing the role of institutions, artists, curators and activists: the notion of 'responsibility' in the context of the Middle East - characterised by the escalation of violence and violations of human and civil rights, the continuation of the Israeli military occupation, the building of an apartheid wall and complete breakdown of the peace process, – as well as in the context of Post-Fordist Central Europe where the erosion of social democratic principles challenges artists and institutions to survive in a harsher social climate and fight for the acceptance and the engagement of a wider public.
For us the exhibition is only a stage of a longer process and we have therefore decided to combine the exhibition with an international workshop, which will allow all participants to reflect and debate.. creating a second opportunity for exchange on an individual basis and as a group… as well as inviting external contributions and feeback.
Galit Eilat, Reem Fadda, Philipp Misselwitz
Eyal Danon, Khaled Horani, Jack Persekian, Barbara Steiner
Made possible by:
German Federal Cultural Foundation |
Goethe Institute, Jerusalem
Robert Bosch Stichung | Heinrich Boell Foundation
Austrian Cultural Forum
+ Seminar Audio Excerpts