“I want them to stand and look”: artist John Halaka (audio)

“Remember. C-01” (2009), from Landscapes of Desire (2009-2013) by John Halaka

This week on The Electronic Intifada podcast: 

“Will the Young Forget” (2012). Triptych 3. Digital Print. From Portraits of Denial and Desire (2012-present), by John Halaka


Some excerpts from the interview with Sarah Irving:

“I don’t like the exclusionary notion that a Palestinian artist should only make art about Palestine. I think it’s critical that we look at the abuses as abuses against human beings, and develop links between oppressed people on a global level. I think that strengthens the critical discourse of the Palestinians, if we’re not talking in an exclusivist sense.”

“When the viewer engages with my work, I want them to stand and look. I don’t want to make work that will poke them in the eye but that will seduce them. I use the word very deliberately. That will engage them on a visual level, and then on an emotional level, in the way that music engages, and on an intellectual level, that gets them to raise questions about the subject matter, about their relation to it, their role in relation to the subject matter.

I think a good work of art leaves the viewer with questions. There is nothing that overtly says ‘Palestine’ about my art, but it should leave the viewer with an irritating series of questions that they ponder for hours or days or years.”

Images courtesy of John Halaka.


Nora Barrows-Friedman

Nora Barrows-Friedman's picture

Nora Barrows-Friedman is a staff writer and associate editor at The Electronic Intifada, and is the author of In Our Power: US Students Organize for Justice in Palestine (Just World Books, 2014).