The International Art Exhibition for Palestine was inaugurated in Beirut (Lebanon), in March 1978, and was intended as the seed collection for a museum in exile. Inspired from the Museum of Resistance in Exile in Solidarity with Salvador Allende, the museum took the form of an itinerant exhibition that was meant to tour until it could repatriate to Palestine. Organized by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), comprising almost 200 works, donated by 200 artists from nearly 30 countries, the exhibition remains one of the most ambitious, in scale and scope, to have ever been showcased in the Arab world until this day. Tragically, during the Israeli siege of Beirut in 1982, sustained heavy shelling destroyed the building where the works were stored as well as the exhibition’s archival and documentary traces.
The research to reconstruct its narrative and traces began with a copy of the exhibition catalogue that lists contributing artists and acknowledges people and institutions whose support made it possible. Past Disquiet. Narratives and Ghosts from The International Art Exhibition for Palestine is centered on this research, and revisits the experience of art and political engagement specifically within the universe of the international anti-imperialist solidarity during the 1970s, uncovering extraordinary networks of individuals and practices behind it.
Incarnating the multiple themes and interrogations that have guided the investigation Past Disquiet will stitch together forgotten histories and map lost cartographies from recorded testimonies and private archives. The exhibition will excavate antecedent and intersecting exhibitions such as the First Biennial of Arab Art in Baghdad (1974), the Second Biennial of Arab Art in Rabat (1976), the First Festival in Assila (1976) and the 1976 edition of the Venice Biennale, to cite a few examples. It will also retrace the complicated mesh of networks of affiliation and solidarity that linked militant artists across the world in the context of the Cold War. In addition, stories of similar museographic initiatives centered on the impassioned defense of causes, and emerging from shared soil, such as the struggle against the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile and the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, will also be resurrected.
Past Disquiet interrogates exhibition history and the historiography of artistic practice and perception, and will also address the problematics of oral history, the trappings of memory, and writing history in the absence of cogent archives. And last but not least, it will also revisit the significance of political engagement in the decade of the 1970s, specifically in universes neither deemed vanguard nor mainstream, and thus rarely studied in prevailing contemporary historical narratives.
Pasado inquieto: narrativas y fantasmas.
THURSDAY 16 OCTOBER, FROM 6 TO 9 pm
Admission: Free admission Venue: Convent dels Àngels Auditorium. Limited places.