Focus: Middle Eastern Art Scene: Bashar Alhroub
05 jun 2015 by art:i:curate team
Three video installations of art:i:curate artist Bashar Alhroub will be featured in the exhibition 'Purgatory' curated by Farid Abu Shakra on view at Umm el-Fahem Gallery in the eponymous city in Israel.
Located in the eastern part of Israel, near the borders between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Umm el-Fahem Art Gallery is a non-profit organisation founded in 1996, on the initiative of local residents and artists who wanted to bring contemporary art to the city and its population and to exhibit original Arab and Palestinian art of high quality. With a lack of other art galleries in the Arab sector in Israel, the gallery has become an important social and cultural meeting place. Contemporary art exhibits, symposiums, creative workshops and seminars have drawn large audiences and have established the gallery as an important center in the local and international culture scene.
On the occasion of his solo exhibition at Umm el-Fahem Art Gallery, Bashar will present three video works that further reflect the artist's interest into the self with the use of the body as a signifier. His work often shows threatened self-identity through the process of scrutiny and experimentation, since it deals with the personal vulnerability and experience of existential anxiety strongly associated with issues such as religion, nationalism, conflict and identity construction. He looks for meaning not in the individual sign but in the context of exile and fragmentation.
Purgatory takes a closer resemblance to what could be called a ghost film, a figure draped in a white shroud paces a deserted corridor and turns in and out of a series on doorways along its length. The figure’s steps scuff the floor heavily, the sound being a prominent feature in this film, which gives us the impression this is a body with weight and not a ghost.
The Other is Me is a video installation in which the artist effectively enacts and makes exterior the internal mechanisms of photography. This exchange and intersection of the internal and the external addresses also our perceptions of otherness, of what is foreign.
Finally, 'Heavenly', considered one of Alhroub's most powerful works, directly confronts the specific issue of occupation. The act is simple, the camera is pointed to the sky as the artist walks through the souk in Hebron. The recent history of Hebron is well known, a once vibrant Palestinian city, with a busy souk, that became a ghost town when settlers under the protection of large numbers of Israeli settlers, who hover above on the rooftops, occupied the city.
Bashar Alhroub, The Other Is Me, 2010, video still, image courtesy of the artist.
Bashar Alhroub is a Palestinian artist based in Ramallah. He holds BA in Fine Art from An-Najah National University, Palestine and a MFA from Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton (2010). He has exhibited in solo and group shows including 'Curated by Paul Smith & friends', Paul Smith - Albemarle Street (London, 2014); 'Points of Departure', The Institute of Contemporary Arts - ICA (London, 2013); 'ART Dubai 2012' (Dubai, 2012); and the '14th Asian Art Biennale' (Bangladesh, 2012).