Date: 2005

AUTHOR: Judith Staines

LOCATION: XXIV Sao Paolo Biennale

PUBLISHER: Culture Base at Visiting Arts

SOURCE: Culture Base at Visiting Arts

Khalil Rabah, Displacement and Re-placement

Khalil Rabah makes installations, video and performance art. He uses photography and mixed media, incorporating objects emblematic of Palestinian identity: olive trees, olive oil, stones, silk embroidery threads, soil and lentils. Rabah states ‘my work involves different methodologies of de-constructing and intervening conceptually and physically with objects, the body, spaces and ideas to formulate new identities.’

He has participated in numerous international exhibitions with several solo shows. In 2001, he had a solo exhibition at the Town House Gallery in Cairo, presented ‘With Out Architecture’ at the Centro Arte Contemporanea in Siena, Italy in 2000, ‘a this and a that’ at the Gallery Anadiel in Jerusalem in 1999 and ‘to be free for a moment’ as national representative for the XXIV Biennale de Sao Paolo, Brazil in 1998.

Group exhibitions have included ‘Contemporary Palestinian Artists’ in 1997 at the Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris, ‘Every Day’ at the 11th Sydney Biennale and ‘Beyond the Borders’ at the Kwangju Biennale in South Korea in 1995. He has shown in other group exhibitions in Washington, Geneva, Tel Aviv and Marseilles.

For the XXIV Biennale de Sao Paolo, Rabah was commissioned by the exhibition ‘Roteiros’. His installation ‘No Place like Home’ used visual material from a site in Beira, Mozambique which used to be a zoo during the Portuguese colonisation and is now inhabited by local people. The work consisted of images printed in a process referred to as ‘flip image’ – two photographs layered over each other and visible though a serrated plastic surface. Visually, this presentation allowed the reading of two images appearing and disappearing in infinite possibilities and readings as the spectator moved at different angles around the work. On another level, it represented dual and antithetical situations: animal-people, cage-home, zoo-dwelling.

For ‘With Out Architecture’ in Siena in 2000, Khalil Rabah was invited to do a project for the city and intervened by using plants from the surrounding landscape as material for work within the city. Specific stones were removed and wild grass was planted to grow in the mediaeval pavements appearing as an act of nature.

In 1997, Khalil Rabah was a founder of the Al-Ma’mal Foundation for Contemporary Art in Jerusalem and has served as a Board member since then. The foundation is developing a residency programme and fosters artistic links between Palestinian artists and artists in other countries.

Rabah was Artist in Residence at Gästatelier, Arau in Switzerland in 1998 and at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Cergy Pontoise, France in 1997. In 2001, Khalil Rabah was awarded the Visiting Arts/Delfina Annual Fellowship and spent nine months working at Delfina Studios in London. He was nominated by artist Mona Hatoum.

Khalil Rabah is a Palestinian artist living and working in Ramallah. He was born in Jerusalem in 1961 and gained a BA in Fine Arts from the University of Texas, USA in 1991. He taught at the Department of Fine Art in Bezalel Academy in Jerusalem from 1997-2000.

He has had numerous international solo shows and has shown at the Sao Paolo, Sydney and Kwanju Biennales. Rabah has undertaken various artist-in-residence programmes in Europe. In 2001, Khalil Rabah was awarded the Visiting Arts/Delfina Annual Fellowship and spent nine months working at Delfina Studios in London.

Rabah is also founder and Board member of the Al-Ma’mal Foundation for Contemporary Art in Jerusalem, set up in 1997.