- VENUE: Ayyam Gallery
Opening reception: Monday, 18 January from 7.00 to 9.00 pm
Ayyam Gallery Dubai (12, Alserkal Avenue) is pleased to present For My Father, the solo show of leading Palestinian artist Rula Halawani. Featuring a recent series of photographs, For My Father serves as Halawani’s debut exhibition with the gallery since joining its roster of artists earlier this year.
Widely respected for her experimental approach to documentary photography, Halawani’s latest body of work details the Israeli occupation of Palestine from the vantage point of fading recollection. Creating a photographic record in remembrance of her late father, Halawani revisits several sites throughout historic Palestine, specifically the scenery that shaped her childhood memories. In the ghostly images of the series, the rolling hills, seashore, and traditional neighbourhoods of the artist’s youth are distorted through the lens of her camera as she struggles to identify what was once familiar. Invading industry now defines the horizon. Abandoned homes are shown in a gradual process of deterioration, overgrown with weeds that sprout from crumbling facades. Once popular beaches now host solitary figures whose silhouettes are fogged at the edges as though slowly disappearing with the diminishing sand and sea.
In a letter to her father that accompanies the series, Halawani describes the transformed environments with disbelief and apparent melancholy, acknowledging the disappearance of the serene settings that were integral to her familial experiences. This somber mood is reflected in the artist’s infrared photography as an opaque film that blankets each site in addition to intensified contrasts between ominous shadows and vivid areas of light.
The subjectivity of Halawani’s attachment to each setting also surfaces in the various angles of the photographs and the few moments of clarity that manifest as minor sections of blurred scenes. Resulting from a specific photographic technique, this visual effect situates Halawani at a material distance, forcibly removed from her subject matter. With the formal innovation of the series the feelings of loss that she describes to her father mirror the transitory nature of life and the sense of alienation that is experienced by Palestinians as families continue to be internally and externally displaced.