Palestinian women artists to dominate London’s fall arts scene

The Goodness Regime by Jumana Manna and Sille Storihle (2013, still). Image courtesy of the artists and Chisenhale Gallery.

A series of concerts and exhibitions by Palestinian artists — almost all of them women — is coming to London in the coming months.

To start, the first solo show in the UK by Jerusalem- and Berlin-based artist Jumana Manna opened at the Chisenhale Gallery on 18 September.

Manna, who won the A.M. Qattan Foundation’s Young Palestinian Artist prize in 2012, has exhibited her work and screened films all over the Middle East, including Jerusalem and Ramallah, as well as across the US and Europe.

The multi-perspective attitude taken by Manna’s photographic, sculptural, installation and cinematic work range, according to the Chisenhale exhibition statement, “from expressions of masculinity in working-class East Jerusalem, to the particular bond between athlete and coach, or the diplomatic role that Norway played in the Oslo Peace Accords.”

The show, which runs until 13 December, also includes a specially commissioned film piece titled A magical substance flows into me.

Following the opening of Manna’s exhibition, the Whitechapel Gallery opens doors on Europa — the first UK show surveying the rich career of Emily Jacir — on 30 September.

Comprising a selection of installation and photographic works, the Whitechapel Gallery’s website describes the exhibition as “focusing on her dialogue with Europe, Italy and the Mediterranean in particular.”

“Known for her poignant works of art that are as poetic as they are political and biographical, Jacir explores histories of migration, resistance and exchange,” the gallery adds.

This show, which runs until January 2016, includes “ex libris,” Jacir’s meditation on the looting and destruction of books, and “Material for a film,” her ongoing collection of items related to the life and murder by Mossad agents of Palestinian intellectual Wael Zuaiter.


For those who haven’t yet seen it, the Mosaic Rooms are still showing work by Lebanese Palestinian design artist Dia Batal.

“On Being” by Dia Batal (2015).

Andy Stagg Mosaic Rooms

The works in Tracing Landscapes include a mashrabiyyeh (window screen) erected as a memorial to the four Palestinian boys killed by Israeli missiles while they were playing on a beach in Gaza in 2014.

Other works in the show, which closes on 27 September, include pieces responding to the poetry of Mahmoud Darwish and drawing on the journey of Batal’s own grandmother as she fled Palestine during the Nakba, the forced expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland in 1948.

Music to the ears

On 3 October, meanwhile, Palestinian oud player Adnan Joubran — best known for his work as one of The Trio Joubran — teams up with Palestinian-Danish musician Simona Abdalla.

The event website describes Abdalla as “one of only a handful of women in the world who play the tablah, the hand-drum used by Middle Eastern ensembles, and fuses rock, house and pop with Middle Eastern rhythm.” The artists will play together in concert at East London’s Rich Mix.

The concert, part of the Mosaiques festival, will also include a panel discussion of the role of music in the Arab world in the wake of the uprisings of the past five years.

Finally, singer and musicologist Reem Kelani, perhaps one of the best-known Palestinian singers performing today, has a busy schedule of events in London and around Britain in the coming months.

On 26 September she will be playing at SOAS’ Brunei Gallery, with another London concert at the Royal Albert Hall on 30 October. She will also be performing at Rich Mix and Ealing Town Hall in late November, as well as concerts in Powys, Wales and Nelson, Lancashire in October and November.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this post misstated that Emily Jacir’s current show is her first solo exhibition in the UK. It is her first institutional survey show.


Sarah Irving

Sarah Irving's picture

Sarah is a freelance writer and editor, author of a biography of Leila Khaled and of the Bradt Guide to Palestine, co-editor of A Bird is Not a Stone (a volume of Palestinian poetry translated into the languages of Scotland), and a PhD candidate at the University of Edinburgh. She has worked and traveled in Palestine since 2001.