17 September – 28 November 2010
Here I am for the third time in six months in the northwest of England looking at an exhibition that concerns itself with the Arab world. But this time the context is a little more complicated. Presented as part of an adjunct programme titled ‘City States’, which is curated and situated separately from the main section of the 2010 Liverpool Biennial, is ‘Future Movements Jerusalem’. The project forms part of a slightly opaque but novel strand of the exhibition, which seems to act as a sort of national pavilion in the style of the Venice Biennale. However, with only six different ‘city states’ represented here, the resulting output shies away from any discourses that might arise from a nationalist, social or political paradigm.
Of all the ‘city states’, the venture that piqued my interest is organized by Art School Palestine and curated by Samar Martha. It has one thing in common with this year’s Middle East-focused exhibitions in the region – such as ‘Arabicity: Such a Near East’ (The Bluecoat, Liverpool), and ‘Contemporary Art Iraq’ (Cornerhouse, Manchester) – in that it consciously makes a choice to side step the inherent political connotations of conflict. Instead, Martha invited a number of artists from around the world (with a particular focus on Arabic-speaking countries), and asked them to draw inspiration from the city of Jerusalem, after completing a series of artist residencies in Palestine.
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