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'The lady and her daughter in law' Palestinian exhibition


June 1, 2014 -The Palestinian village, represented by its elderly ladies whose faces bear the marks of all sorts of stories and anecdotes, has been featured in an exhibition by artist Rawan Sarhan at the P21 Gallery in central London. Anecdotes about the "mother in law and the daughter in law" led the young Palestinian to call her exhibition "The lady and her daughter in law".Sarhan's photographic exhibition tells the stories of those who are still holding on steadfastly to the soil of their homeland and its olive trees. They make their own bread and enjoy local cheese despite the Nakba which, as she put it, led to the ethnic cleansing of thousands of those who once inhabited the land. It is a tale of the strong bond between Palestinians and their land, and the struggle to maintain their heritage and identity..


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'The lady and her daughter in law' Palestinian exhibition

Middle East Monitor

1thepalestinianladyandherdaughter.jpg

June 1, 2014

The Palestinian village, represented by its elderly ladies whose faces bear the marks of all sorts of stories and anecdotes, has been featured in an exhibition by artist Rawan Sarhan at the P21 Gallery in central London. Anecdotes about the "mother in law and the daughter in law" led the young Palestinian to call her exhibition "The lady and her daughter in law".

Sarhan's photographic exhibition tells the stories of those who are still holding on steadfastly to the soil of their homeland and its olive trees. They make their own bread and enjoy local cheese despite the Nakba which, as she put it, led to the ethnic cleansing of thousands of those who once inhabited the land. It is a tale of the strong bond between Palestinians and their land, and the struggle to maintain their heritage and identity.

She chose to use black and white photographs, she says, because the monochrome images convey the essence of the village. The faces sum up the hope, joy and toil of the villagers. She described her pictures as "peaceful and warm".

The P21 Palestine Gallery hosted Sarhan's exhibition as part of a new programme called Re Act that gives young artists the opportunity to exhibit their work. The gallery hopes to foster the development of new art from inception to exhibition at the highest possible levels.

Speaking after the opening of her exhibition, Rawan Sarhan said that she was keen to capture the life and daily activities of the mother in law and daughter in law in a tiny village near Ramallah. Although the relationship between the two women is far from predictable, they are interconnected by many traditional activities. She noted that she comes from a vibrant modern city, Ramallah, which embraces satellite villages where time appears to have stood still for centuries.

The artist chose the village of Beyteen as the subject of her pictures, where the villagers still till the land and lead a life very similar to that of their ancestors. The village women bring in the harvest, graze the sheep and make the cheese. They are housewives par excellence, according to Sarhan, whose intention with this exhibition was to bring Palestinian life home to those Palestinians who "might not know it", as well as to those of us in the West who look at painting and photography as common languages for communication between civilisations.

The photographs focus on the faces of elderly Palestinian women in the village. Such faces, she says, are disappearing. "A Western lifestyle is taking over," she says. "The old people live their lives day by day and do not appear to be bothered by what goes on beyond their immediate vicinity. The harvest, baking and cheese making keeps them fully preoccupied."

The young Palestinian artist is grateful for the opportunity given to her by the P21 Gallery to share her work with a wider audience. The gallery provided all sorts of practical and technical advice to make the most of the exhibition and thus strengthen its impact on visitors; these include a number of Western artists who were attracted by the artistic concept devised by the photographer. In statements to Arabi 21 media, some of them explained that they came because they were keen to learn about the various aspects of Palestinian life through sounds and pictures.

German Artist Renni Festa, for example, expressed her admiration of the exhibition. "This features women in their homes as if they lead a harsh life," she pointed out, "and yet, the truth is that, as we can see, they are happier than us because they have friends, strong social ties and cohesive families." She was impressed by the high quality of the exhibition which is up to international standards.

Another artist, known only as Christina, visited in order to learn about domestic Palestinian life, of which she knew little. She told journalists that she was very pleased to see such images as it provides an insight into a different culture.

Gallery curator Yahya Zalloum has said that he and his staff aim to provide young artists with an opportunity to exhibit their work and talk about Palestine in a beautiful and attractive way. As part of the package, the gallery provides advice about how best to prepare pictures and photographs for exhibition and then makes the space available and open to the public.



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:: Article nr. 107464 sent on 08-jun-2014 01:42 ECT

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