Equations of Distance | 2.6 – 17.7
Equations of Distance
Hadeel Abu Johar | Aya Abu Roken Kamal | Myssa Daher | Raia Hamde
From today’s perspective, colored by the COVID-19 pandemic, the title “Equations of Distance” conjures up associations with physical distancing guidelines and how we behave in the public space in the midst of the pandemic. But the name of this exhibition was decided upon many weeks before the outbreak.
“Equations of Distance” is the outcome of an opportunity. In 2017 Aya Abu Roken Kamal, Hadeel Abu Johar, Myssa Daher, and Raia Hamde participated in a series of monthly encounters at the Mamuta Art & Research Center in West Jerusalem focusing on the artists’ next steps after completing their studies at Haifa University.* Unlike many group exhibitions, which begin with a curatorial theme and only then assemble a group of artists and works to fit the theme, here it was the artists’ initiative to create a group show to be presented at Mamuta. The encounters raised questions about the artists’ distance from their homes in the Galilee, the trip to West Jerusalem, the necessity of speaking in Hebrew, and the meaning of each of their work, separately and as a group. All this evolved into a collaborative effort toward the exhibition before us.
Now as “Equations of Distance” opens Mamuta’s doors following weeks of lockdown and isolation, the distances are also measured in the possibilities of viewing the works and our presence in the physical space of the exhibition.
The works deal with the body, religion, sexuality, exile, and fate. They reflect states of dissonance and otherness without trying to bridge the gaps between them and their surroundings. In her video installation The Edge of my Thoughts, Myssa Daher de-constructs and re-constructs a narrative continuum made up of materials she filmed in private and public spaces in Haifa, Nazareth, Lifta, Jaffa, and Tel Aviv. Raya Hamde’s series of 3D paper works, I Keep Silent arose from her desire to reshape the power relations in the folk tales and religious stories she was told as a girl. Her works are brimming with desire, fantasies, and fictional worlds. They touch upon matter and body through oversized bodily organs and hybrids (human/animal, human/machine).
In their installation Salma wants everything to be in its place, Hadeel Abu Johar and Salma pile up objects and clothing that accompanied them in the many transitions in their lives. Alongside the objects are two photographs that were taken while trying on clothing at a designer clothing shop in Italy, where they spent many hours even though both they and the salespeople knew they had no intention of buying anything. Accompanied by texts in her own handwriting, the work stretches the boundaries of the forbidden by reifying it. Salma is the memory of Hadeel, and at the same time she is sometimes the women all. Aya Abu Roken Kamal focuses, on her installation “Restoring a Possibility,” on a specific point in place and time: October 29, 2009 in Daliat al-Karmel. In order to understand the mechanisms of fortune and chance she translates the private moment into doomed-to-fail experiments and sisyphean actions, such as sewing a flower or manually punching holes to recreate the stars in their location on that same day and place.
Questions arose throughout the artistic and curatorial process about the identity politics inherent in the act of showing the works of non-Jewish women artists in an Israeli institution in West Jerusalem and about how to make each artist’s identity present without having it dismissed in generalizations. The exhibit does not purport to answer all these questions but rather to bring them to the surface. It proposes to illuminate possible paths between the hills of the Galilee and the hills of Jerusalem but also to mark the chasms between them, the places where we find the sediments, the contradictions, the forgetting, and the denial of all that has occurred between them over the past decades.
*The graduates were hosted at the Academy of the Contemporary as part of Mamuta’s residency program.
Equations of Distance
Curatorial and Artistic Guidance: Sala-Manca and Thalia Hoffman | Production: Shahar Ben-Nun Technical Assistant: Shimri Hagay and Yoav Fisch | Graphic Design: Sana Jammalieh | Text Editing: Inbal Keydar | Arabic Translation: Nagham Abuleil | English Translation: Tamar Cohen | Sound and Programming: Amir Bolzman
Thanks to Hanna Qubty, Ilanit Konopny, Sagit Mezamer, Yehudit Shlosberg- Yogev, Itamar Mendes-Flohr, Tamar Drozd, Ginogly Art Center for Visual Arts, The Israeli Center for Digital Art.
The exhibit is supported by the Ministry of Culture, The Jerusalem Municipality and Miffal Hapais