The Origins of Palestinian Art

BookThe Origins of Palestinian Art

The Origins of Palestinian Art

Value: Art: Politics, 9


November 13th, 2013



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This book provides the most comprehensive survey of contemporary Palestinian art to date. The development of contemporary practice, theory and criticism is understood as integral to the concomitant construction of Palestinian national identities. In particular the book explores the intricate relationship between art and nationalism in which the idea of origin plays an important and problematic role. The book deconstructs the existing narratives of the history of Palestinian art, which search for its origins in the 19th century, and argues that Palestinian contemporary art demonstrates pluralistic, politically and philosophically complex attitudes towards identity and nation that confound familiar narratives of origin and belonging. The book builds upon theories of art, nationalism and post-colonialism particularly in relation to the themes of fragmentation and dispersal. It takes the Arabic word for Diaspora Shatat (literally broken apart) as a central concern in contemporary understanding of Palestinian culture and develops it, along with Edward Said’s paradoxical formula of a ‘coherence of dispersal’ as the organising concept of the book. This aspect of contemporary Palestinian art is peculiarly suited to the conditions produced by the globalisation of art and we show how Palestinian artists, despite not having a state, have developed an international profile.


'A masterful performance of fairness and objectivity, combined with a passion for the subject that will make it the most important point of departure for all future writing on this subject.'
Critical Inquiry

'The book is an excellent survey of contemporary Palestinian art, bringing together a wide range of artists and mediums along with descriptions of these art works and their interpretation within the context of Palestinian culture and history.'
Kiven Strohm, Journal of Palestine Studies

Author Information

Professor Bashir Makhoul is Rector of Winchester Campus and Head of School at Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton. Dr Gordon Hon is Lecturer in Fine Art and Visual Culture at Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton.

Table of Contents

Section TitlePage
List of Illustrations
1. Introduction
The Problem of the Beginning
2. The Problem of the Origin
The Empty Centre
The Wall
3. Origin and Disaster
Chaos and the Open Mouth
4. Jerusalem as the Navel and the Blind Spot
The City as Hierophany
The City as Wiki
5. Inside the Line: Palestinians in Israel
6. Al-Shataat: A Coherence of Dispersion
The Shadow of the Map
The Cracked Earth
Contingency, Tactics and Strategic Essentialism
The Artist as Semblant
7. Trailers and Openings