Featured Artist: Emily Jacir
Palestinian artist and filmmaker Emily Jacir was born in Bethlehem palestine in 1972. She lives and works between Ramallah, Palestine, and New York, USA. Jacir works in a variety of media which include film, photography, installation, performance, video, writing and sound. Her work mainly focuses on themes including displacement, exile, and resistance within the context of Palestinian occupation.
Jacir spent her childhood in Saudi Arabia, and moved to Italy where she completed her high school. She attended the University of Dallas, Memphis College of Art and graduated with an art degree. Jacir has exhibited extensively throughout the Americas, Europe, and the Middle East since 1994, holding solo exhibitions in places including New York City, Los Angeles, Ramallah, Beirut,London and Linz.
Jacir has also worked with various organizations including the A. M. Qattan Foundation, Al Ma’mal Foundation for Contemporary Art and the Sakakini Cultural Center. She has been involved in creating numerous projects and events such as Birzeit’s Virtual Art Gallery. She also founded and curated the first International Video Festival in Ramallah in 2002. She curated a selection of shorts; Palestinian Revolution Cinema (1968 – 1982) which went on tour in 2007. Between 2000 – 2002 she curated several Arab Film programs in NYC with Alwan for the Arts including the first Palestinian Film Festival in 2002. She works as a full-time professor at the vanguard International Academy of Art Palestine since it opened its doors in 2006 and she also served on its Academic Board from 2006 through 2012. Jacir led the first year of the Ashkal Alwan Home Workspace Program in Beirut (2011-2012) and created the curriculum and programming after serving on the founding year of the Curricular Committee from 2010-2011.
Emily is the recipient of several awards, including a Golden Lion at the 52nd Venice Biennale (2007); a Prince Claus Award (2007); the Hugo Boss Prize (2008); and the Herb Alpert Award (2011). Her works have been in important group exhibitions internationally, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA); Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin; dOCUMENTA (13) (2012); Venice Biennale (2005, 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013); 29th Bienal de São Paulo, Brazil (2010); 15th Biennale of Sydney (2006); Sharjah Biennial 7 (2005); Whitney Biennial (2004); and the 8th Istanbul Biennial (2003). Jacir’s recent solo exhibitions include Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2016); Whitechapel Gallery, London (2015); Darat il Funun, Amman (2014-2015); Beirut Art Center (2010); Guggenheim Museum, New York (2009).
One of the Emilys famous art work Memorial to 418 Palestinian Villages Which Were Destroyed, Depopulated, and Occupied by Israel in 1948. About the work its written that, this piece is the result of a three-month community-based project in which artist Emily Jacir erected a family-size refugee tent in her New York studio and stenciled the names of all the villages that Walid Khalidi recorded in his book ‘All That Remains’. Over 140 people came through her studio to embroider the names while telling stories, socializing, or recounting how each village was destroyed; often accompanied by live Arabic music. The people who collaborated to make the Memorial were bankers, lawyers, filmmakers, dentists, consultants, playwrights, artists, activists, teachers, etc. Most were Palestinians (some of whom came from the villages in question), some were Israelis (who grew up in the remains of these villages), and they were joined by people from a multitude of backgrounds.
The piece was made during a brief period that Jacir, along with many of her Palestinian compatriots, spent in New York. Among the many people who participated in the sewing process were: Kamran Rastegar, Annemarie Jacir, Suhail Shadoud, Ali Abunimah, Steven Salaita, Sherene Seikaly, Samera Esmair, Rachel Jones, Larissa Sansour, Amira Solh, Tom Abowd, Munir Fakhereldin, Valerie Tevere and Angel Nevarez, Rene Gabri and Ayreen Anastas, David Thorne and Julia Meltzer, Youmna Chlala, Dahna Abou Rahme, Laila Sansour, Salim Tamari, Michael Rakowitz, John Menick, Oz Shelach, Yael Lerner, Anna Sherbany, Jenny Perlin, Zenib Sedira, Kareem Fahim, Susan Kelly, Livia Alexander, and many more. The Memorial is accompanied by a book with a daily log documenting all participants.
‘Embrace’ is another famous work by Emily exhibited in 54th Venice Biennale. The work is a circular, motorised sculpture fabricated to look like an empty luggage conveyor system found in airports. It remains perfectly still and quiet, but when a viewer comes near the sculpture their presence activates the work; it turns on and starts moving. The work’s diameter refers to the height of the artist. The work symbolises, amongst many things, waiting and the etymology of the word ‘embrace’.”