“I woke up around 2 this morning to the deafening sound of soldiers in my neighborhood,” wrote Khaled Jarrar, Palestinian artist, shortly after the latest “Wave of Terror” erupted between Israel and Palestine in 2015. Castles Built from Sand will Fall, Jarrar’s latest solo exhibition at Ayyam Gallery’s Alserkal Avenue location, deconstructs and resists the notion of occupation.
Jarrar’s highly provocative and relevant work speaks to art’s ability to cross pollinate and integrate with urgent political issues. In 2011, Jarrar began an ongoing public performance called “State of Palestine,” a postage and passport stamp designed by the artist, which he started offering at a Ramallah bus station and the Qalandia checkpoint. The work has since found second life in the frame of numerous international art exhibitions, such as the 8th Berlin Biennale (2014), curated by dissident Polish artist Artur Żmijewski. The stamp depicts a Palestinian Sunbird with wings gracefully extended, reaching towards a Jasmine branch and flower, encircled by Arabic and English text. During the Berlin Biennale, Jarrar presented the work for two days at Checkpoint Charlie, where a wall once stood separating the GDR from West Germany. According to Jarrar, “it has a strong political statement about our resistance as a human beings, not only as Palestinians. The Israelis don’t want to treat Palestinians as humans or as a nation. We are not defined as a nation by the whole world, we are undefinable – it’s like we don’t exist or we are called stateless.” The work has achieved a near cult-like status among critical contemporary art circles, testament to art’s power and ability to address ongoing conflicts and global issues.
For his latest solo exhibition in Dubai, Jarrar displayed a new installation and objects alongside older works like “Journey 110” (2008), a video which portrays a secret passageway under the West Bank. In addition, the artist installed a massive concrete wall that cut the gallery in half, which forced visitors to crawl through in order to experience the remaining works on display. All in all, Jarrar’s incredibly relevant and timely practice purposely raises questions about freedom, equality and awareness of Palestinian statehood and human rights. It speaks, at once, to our complicity as viewers and art’s responsibility to address even the most urgent social and political issues.