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From Palestine To Israel Exhibition Preview - Stuart Fawcett went along to the Mosaic rooms to take a look at the 'From Palestine to Israel' exhibition.
Ariella Azoulay (see first photo) of Tel Aviv, Israel is holding an intensely emotional exhibition in the Mosaic rooms in Kensington. "From Palestine to Israel" – is both an exhibition and a book.
Seeing this exhibition with no other reference points could indeed polarize your opinions and feelings leaving you, as it did me, with a deep feeling of sadness and loss. But Ariella does not seem to want to exploit this response as an angry reaction against Israel or any other state, rather she wants to highlight the ‘catastrophe’ that befell the Palestinians as they became caught up in the middle of a series of power deals in the area. Ariella has spent many years highlighting the current plight of the Palestinians and wanted to show how the reformation of the new land boundaries in the area affected the Palestinian people.
In Tel Aviv, Ariella had access to up to 12 official photographic archives, she has also had photo’s loaned to her for the book from affected individuals; she says perhaps 800 to 1000 photo’s were looked through so she could choose over 200 to illustrate the message of the book. Some photo's are missing due to copyright restrictions, these are described instead. Each photo typically has a description of the situation and comment on what might be interpreted as the message of the photographer, these are often taken from government archives and a deeper search for a hidden meaning may indeed be warranted. I think each viewer will need to take that decision themselves, you certainly can’t deny there was significant disruption to many lives during this time.
Viewing the photographs and reading the descriptions and interpretations will certainly challenge you to accept or deny the message she is conveying, in the exhibition this feeling resonates with the subdued down lighting in the mosaic rooms in Kensington. It’s hard to read just a few of the images and stop, you feel compelled to view and read the next and then the next. However it's a fruitless journey if you looking for a happy ending as none is offered other than rare and brief glimpses of moments where normality and human spirit shows that even in catastrophe, some happier moments will be found amongst the young.
Her book, a Photographic Record of Destruction and State Formation, covers the period of 1947-1950 and is broken into 7 main sections covering section titles such as "Military Governmentality", "Socialisation to the state and the mechanisms of subordination" and "Architecture of Destruction, Disposition and Gaining Ownership". Each of these sections introduces a range of pictures to represent the subject areas and each picture carries its own description and commentary where deemed necessary.
The pictures are emotive and elicit a very strong response, one lady was sobbing through some of the pictures. No particular guidance is given on how to channel this emotion into a particular direction and perhaps a workable solution. Ariella asks us to reflect on this catastrophe, personally I’m left wondering how all the nations in the area can continue to fail to offer a mutually workable solution to the Palestinians.
The Mosaic Rooms suggest they bring some of the most exciting, progressive and innovative creative voices in the Arab World to London. Ariella Azoulay certainly brings one strong point for discussion. It may not be the best place to first find out information about the Palestinian situation but if you want history and comment, then this should well be worth a visit.
Words and images by Stuart Fawcett (JackAllTog).