Emily Jacir: Europa
30 Sep 2015 – 3 Jan 2016
Bringing together almost two decades of sculpture, film, drawings, large-scale installations and photography, this is the first UK exhibition devoted to the multimedia artist.
Palestinian artist Emily Jacir was born in Bethlehem, raised in Saudi Arabia and educated in Italy. In this exhibition at Whitechapel – her first solo show in the UK – she explores the complex nature of her relationship with Europe; the Mediterranean in particular. Working in a variety of media, Jacir produces immersive installations that merge political themes with her own biographical experiences. Literature, etymology and the act of translation are also key themes for her exploration.
Video installation ENTRY DENIED (a concert in Jerusalem), features a performance by Austrian musicians who were prevented from playing in East Jerusalem and Bethlehem after one member of the group Marwan Abado – who is of Palestinian origin – was refused admittance at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport for ‘security reasons’. Jacir invited them to perform the concert exactly as it was to have taken place but in an empty theatre in Vienna.
Also featured are the plans for her unrealised venture, stazione, for which she proposed to display Arabic translations of the signs at each vaporetto station along Route 1 during the Venice Biennale in 2009. The project was cancelled after intervention from the local authorities.
Material for a film (2004-ongoing) makes its UK premiere in this show. It is based on the life of Palestinian writer Wael Zuaiter who was assassinated near his home in Rome 1972 after being mistakenly identified as one of those responsible for the murder of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics.
Drawing together photographs, books, music, letters, interviews and telegrams – as well as a clip from a Pink Panther film in which he had a small part – she recreates Zuaiter’s life through the fragments left behind. This is presented alongside a series of the artist’s own writings and audio recordings in which she documents her experiences of creating the project.