There’s still time to catch Emily Jacir’s “intervals” in New York City

View of Emily Jacir’s installation ex libris at Alexander and Bonin, New York, 2014.

Joerg Lohse

New Yorkers have a few days left to catch Emily Jacir’s exhibition intervals at Alexander and Bonin gallery in Chelsea before it closes on Saturday.

intervals features works by the internationally-celebrated Palestinian artist from 1998-2012 which are being shown in the United States for the first time. (I recently interviewed Jacir and revolutionary filmmaker Monica Maurer about their efforts to restore and digitize film reels documenting the Palestinian liberation movement in Lebanon in the 1970s.)

View of text painted on side of building reading: This book belongs to its owner Fathallah Saad. He bought it with his own money at the beginning of March 1892.

“AP 3851” from ex libris (2010-2012) by Emily Jacir, translation and painted mural, Alexander and Bonin, New York, 2014.

Joerg Lohse

The gallery describes Jacir’s work and the current exhibition:

Emily Jacir’s ongoing practice is concerned with silenced historical narratives, resistance, movement, and exchange. Books, libraries and the act of translation recur in many of her projects. The exhibition includes a film installation, photographs, drawings, sculptures and a public mural.

The installation ex libris, 2010 – 2012, commissioned and produced by dOCUMENTA (13), will occupy the first floor of the gallery. ex libris commemorates the approximately thirty thousand books from Palestinian homes, libraries, and institutions that were looted by Israeli authorities in 1948. Six thousand of these books are kept and catalogued at the Jewish National and University Library in Jerusalem under the designation “A.P.” (Abandoned Property). Jacir photographed these books with her cell phone during repeated visits to the library over the course of two years. Jacir’s explorations and her subsequent selection of specific images create an intimate register of fragments and traces. Her work not only addresses the looting and destruction of books but also raises questions regarding repatriation and restitution. For dOCUMENTA (13), she also translated selections of the handwritten inscriptions from the books into German and English and exhibited them on billboards throughout Kassel. On the exterior of the Zwehrenturm, one of the inscriptions was presented in each language on three sides of the tower. Additional inscriptions were presented on billboards sited at the Hauptbahnhof and Murhard Library. For the New York presentation of ex libris, one of the inscriptions will be painted on a 25 x 50 foot wall near the gallery.

The exhibition will also include the video installation ENTRY DENIED (a concert in Jerusalem), 2003 a full length concert performed by Austrian nationals Marwan Abado, Peter Rosmanith, and Franz Hautzinger. The musicians were slated to give concerts in East Jerusalem and Bethlehem in July of 2002 as part of the Songs of Freedom concert series, organized by Yabous Productions. They were unable to perform after Marwan Abado was denied entry at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport for “security reasons” on July 20th, 2002. Jacir asked them to perform the concert, exactly as it was to have taken place in Jerusalem, in an empty theater in Vienna without an audience.

On the gallery’s second floor there will be a selection of works made by Jacir in Paris in 1998 which include drawings, photographs, documentation of a performance, and a sculpture. These small scale works and sketches reflect Jacir’s various trajectories.

In conjunction with Documentary Fortnight, Emily Jacir’s two-channel video work Ramallah/New York (2004-2005), from the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art will be on view at in the museum’s Ronald S. and Jo Carole Lauder Building Lobby. In November, 2014, Darat al Funun in Amman will present a survey of Jacir’s work which concentrates on her film and sound installations, billboards and interventions.

Emily Jacir’s ENTRY DENIED (a concert in Jerusalem), 2003, Betacam video, 105 minutes.

Joerg Lohse

Those interested in learning more about Israel’s plunder of Palestinian books, the subject of Jacir’s installation ex libris, are encouraged to read Hannah Mermelstein’s article “Overdue Books: Returning Palestine’s ‘Abandoned Property’ of 1948” in Jerusalem Quarterly; this mass theft of Palestinian cultural property is also the subject of the documentary The Great Book Robbery.

Update: After this post was first published, I was informed of Gish Amit’s 2008 article for Jerusalem Quarterly which spurred further scholarly interest and artistic intervention regarding Palestine’s stolen books. The article, “Ownerless Objects? The story of the books Palestinians left behind in 1948,” can be read in full (along with the rest of the contributions to the “Plundering Palestine”-themed edition of Jerusalem Quarterly) here.

All images courtsey of Alexander and Bonin gallery.


Maureen Clare Murphy

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Maureen Clare Murphy is senior editor of The Electronic Intifada.