Recounting the Past, Present and Future. Art, Sense of Place and Society

Lecture and discussion with Alia Rayyan
Dezember 17th, 2015

The question of whether art should respond to social responsibilities is not new and has been addressed by innumerable artists and authors. For the Palestinian art institute Al Hoash, it has been important since its foundation in 2004 to take part in social debates and activities – in line with its founding mission to preserve and promote cultural heritage and art. Eleven years later, the political situation has not improved and Palestinians are still far from full recognition, independency and equality.

Witnessing the loop of destruction of basic living conditions and the ongoing fragmentation of Palestinian realities, Al Hoash’s mission requires reevaluation. What does it mean in a place with such harsh political realities to preserve cultural heritage? Is it sufficient to produce intellectual material and show art works in a white cube to fulfill the task of preserving knowledge and heritage for future generations, for them to remember their cultural history? Or should there be a broader interpretation of the mission in light of the ongoing deterioration? What is the task of an art organization in such a context, in which people are suffering under occupation?

The presentation will give an insight to the current situation of an art institute working in East Jerusalem and the idea of participatory art in an environment of conflict.

Alia Rayyan holds an MA degree in international politics (with focus on the Middle East), sociology and history of art, from University of Hamburg and School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. She worked in Berlin, Beirut, Dubai, Amman and Ramallah. Since September 2013, she took over the position as Executive and Art Director at the Al Hoash Gallery – the Palestinian Art Court, in Jerusalem. She was responsible for creating the new »creative« field program for young Palestinian artists and designers, as well as the social art engagement program with urban interventions and rebel architecture projects to confront the specific circumstances in public spaces for Palestinians in Jerusalem. Her latest article about rethinking structures for the »creative« field in conflict zones has been published in »Museums – Citizens and Sustainable Solutions« (Edited by Jacob Thorek Jensen and Ida Brændholt Lundgaard, Copenhagen 2015).