National Pavilion UAE - Otherwise Occupied | Review of the Palestine Pavilion | By Benedetta Lanza
  • Otherwise Occupied | Review of the Palestine Pavilion | By Benedetta Lanza

    Among the national pavilions located outside the Arsenale and Giardini areas you encounter the Palestinian pavilion. To be honest, this pavilion really astonished me because it is an example of outstanding beauty reached through an essential simplicity and direct expressivity. “Otherwise occupied” tell us the story of those who suffer the occupation living far from their occupied homeland. The Palestinian pavilion, curated by Bruce Ferguson and Rawan Sharaf, features two established artists representatives of the Palestinian diaspora: Bashir Makhoul with his occupied garden and Aissa Deebi with the Trial video installation. This exhibition was organized by Al Hoash, a Jerusalem-based nonprofit Palestinian organization that seeks the development of visual arts to improve the national pride and free expression. The idea that inspired this organization is the belief that visual arts have an important role in promoting spirit of all people. The pavilion, located at Liceo Artistico Statale of Venice, expresses that the idea of Palestine is not shaped by the occupant but it is defined by each citizen’s imagination.

    Bashir Makhoul and Aissa Deebi are artists that are interested in the aspects of play and performance within the art. According to them “art is capable of occupying cultural spaces that are otherwise inaccessible or invisible”. Both artists were born in Jordan but brought up with Palestinian culture. They are studying different ways of imagination and building the Palestinian identity although far from their nation and beyond the conflict. To be otherwise occupied is to be busy elsewhere to be engaged in activities outside the programme. When you first see the occupied garden you are shocked by the overlap and the accumulation of boxes that remind us the difficulty of cutting your own space in a closed and occupied territory.

    Bashir Makhoul wants the visitor to experience the harshness of such reality by giving YOU the chance of creating your own box and putting it within the horizons of his already occupied garden. Like the occupied garden, Aissa Deebi’s work show how colonization, present and past ,has been crucial in the making of the Palestinian identity.

    Through the speech of Daoud Turki, an Arab citizen of Israel, delivered at Haifa Court before he was convicted of espionage as a leader of “Red Front”, the idea of identity is expressed; of National democratic state in which the rights of both Jewish and Palestinian people would be respected.

    I bet you cannot find any other pavilion that allows you to interact directly with the art and to understand completely the deep meaning behind the artist’s idea.

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