Whole in the Wall is the first UK solo exhibition by Palestinian artist Khaled Jarrar. Running from 20 June until 3 August at Ayyam Gallery London, the showcase of work includes a new site-specific participatory installation. Taking everyday events and experiences as his starting point, Jarrar’s practice incorporates performance, video, photography and sculpture to document his observations on life in an occupied Palestine. The restrictions imposed on him and his fellow citizens have become the catalyst and subject of his occasionally satirical artistic output.
A highlight of the exhibition is the artist’s constructed concrete wall, which extends the entire length of the gallery. The installation stops audiences in their tracks through its literal physical presence and through the enormity of its existence. In order to pass through the wall visitors will have to clamber through a hole shaped like Palestine – an allegory for the process endured by people crossing the apartheid wall in the West Bank in order to reach their homes in Palestine.
Along with the installation, Jarrar will show a series of video works and new and recent concrete sculptures based on sporting paraphernalia: footballs, volleyballs, basketballs and ping pong rackets. Each of the pieces are formed from materials secretly chiseled by the artist from the separation wall. In referring to the footballs abandoned by nearby children who use the area as a site for their games, and by repurposing this found material, the artist looks to provoke a dialogue about possession and reclamation.
Jarrar’s other recent projects include Live and Work in Palestine (2011 – present) – an entry stamp he created for the “State of Palestine”, which he then stamped into the passports of tourists entering Ramallah. The project was designed to encourage collaboration between art and audience as it enabled them to formally record their visit to a “stateless” place – a symbolic gesture to interrogate the gap between an aspirational state and an actualised one. This action has been performed elsewhere at the Pompidou in Paris and the Norwegian Nobel Institute in Oslo, as well as the 2012 Berlin Biennale.
Interestingly, Jarrar used to be a captain of the Palestinian Presidential Guard. Consequently he is familiar with bureaucracy, politics, military discipline, and affairs of the state. This previous career informs his artistic practice, and much of his work has focused on the action of breaking free from disciplinary modes of being and subverting existing codes of conduct. Jarrar both addresses the ownership of the land and the displacement of the people, offering a personal and alternative report of Palestine.
Khaled Jarrar: Whole in the Wall, 20 June – 3 August, Ayyam Gallery,143 New Bond Street, 1st Floor, W1S 2TP, London.
1. Khaled JARRAR, Jerusalem AirPort, 2008, 3 ex., C-Print + Diasec , 80 x 120 cm. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Guy B+ñrtschi.