Emily Jacir, who participated in the 52nd La Biennale di Venezia international art exhibition, was awarded last week with the prestigious Golden Lion award. Jacir, whose ongoing installation work “Material for a film” was featured in the 2007 Biennale themed Think with the senses - Feel with the mind, was given the Golden Lion award for an artist under the age of 40.
“The award for an artist under 40 is given for a practice that takes as its subject exile in general and the Palestinian issue in particular. Without recourse to exoticism, the work on display in the central Pavilion at the Giardini establishes and expands a crossover between cinema, archival documentation, narrative and sound,” stated the Bieannale’s International Jury.
Jacir’s “Material for a film” retraces Palestinian cultural figure Wael Zuaiter, who was the first of a series of Palestinian intellectuals and artists who were assassinated by Israeli agents in Europe. Zuaiter was murdered outside of his Rome apartment in 1972.
Jacir has written on her work, “In 1979, Zuaiter’s companion of eight years, Sydney-born artist Janet Venn-Brown published For a Palestinian: A Memorial to Wael Zuaiter. One chapter, titled ‘Material for a film’ by Elio Petri and Ugo Pirro, is comprised of a series of interviews conducted with the people who were part of Zuaiter’s life in Italy, including Venn-Brown herself. They were going to make a film, but Petri died shortly afterwards and the film was never realized. This chapter was the point of departure for my project.”
Jacir employs a variety of media including film, photography, installation, performance, video, writing and sound in her work and has shown extensively throughout Europe, the Americas and the Middle East since 1994. Her 2007 solo exhibitions include: Kunstmuseum, St. Gallen, Switzerland and Villa Merkel, Esslingen, Germany 2007/08 and Alberto Peola Arte Contemporanea, Torino, Italy. She conceived of and co-curated the first Palestine International Video Festival in Ramallah in 2002. Recently she curated a selection of shorts, Palestinian Revolution Cinema (1968-1982) which is currently on tour in the United States. She is the recipient of numerous awards including a 2007 Prince Klaus Award, 2004 Lambent Foundation Fellowship, and 2005 Alpert/Ucross Residency Prize. In 2003, belongings was published by O.K. Books, a monograph on a selection of Jacir’s work from 1998 to 2003. She resides between Ramallah and New York and is currently working on a narrative film.