Wednesday, February 23, 2005

When Art Speaks For The People: Taysir Batniji

"Je ne suis pas que Palestinien, je suis aussi artiste. Je souhaite que mon travail soit compris et accepté parce que c’est un travail artistique. Les autres te regardent à travers ce préjugé, ce prisme du Palestinien que tu es".
Meaning: I am not only Palestinian, I am also an artist. I wish that my work will be understood and accepted because it’s art, I don't want to be prejudged because I'm "Palestinian"…

Born in Gaza, Palestine, in 1966. He studied fine arts in Nablus (Palestine). He continued his studies in France.
He has staged exhibitions at various venues in Europe and beyond. He held a solo presentation in Centre Culturel Français, Gaza (Palestine) in 2004, and in 2002 he exhibited among others in Belgrade, in Berlin (K&S Gallery), and in Paris (La Galerie). His work was also presented at the Havana Biennial and the Venice Biennale in 2003.

Taysir Batniji’s art confronts the reality of the land from which he comes: Palestine. He especially dedicates himself to questions of identity, exile and home. The fragmentary video images and photos, recorded on the streets and markets of his hometown Gaza show a very sharp observation of the reality of this occupied city.
Since some time now, Batniji, like all plastic artists, has been tackling the image through videos and slides. Batniji wants to give Palestinians the chance to represent themselves and to speak of themselves through images done by them. To insist, exist, resist… in the face of absence and silence.

Since the second Intifada broke out in 2001, the Rafah border has been the only way for people from the Gaza Strip to leave or enter the region. People travel via Cairo airport, men traveling alone separated from the other travelers, and under heightened Egyptian guard. All the travelers encounter each other in an open-air transit zone in Rafah, waiting for the moment when the Israelis will permit them transit to Gaza. This wait can last from a day to several weeks.
In 2004 Taysir Batniji photographed his journey to the Gaza Strip. The work Transit presents these images and reflects on the extremely difficult conditions under which Palestinians must travel.

In 1997 he put up an installation of 20 rolls of white cloth on which were imprints of keys – those that Palestinian families took along with them when they had to flee their homes in 1948…
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For details about him and samples of his work in French click here.

I really wish him more success, and hope he'll keep offering us this great quality of work that reveals the artistic as well as the patriotic side of a talented, determined and proud Palestinian.
[Sources: This Week In Palestine, ArtCrafts]