Disrupted Intimacies

Graduates of The International Academy of Art, Palestine. 4 - 18 Nov. 2015, French - German Cultural Center, Ramallah. Photos and curatorial text by Tina Sherwell.
Dec 2015

Established in 2006 in the heart of Ramallah, The International Academy of Art, Palestine (IAAP) is a unique community of artists, individuals and institutional partnerships committed to the development of visual art in higher education in Palestine. IAAP is particularly concerned with how to teach contemporary art in a manner that addresses the historical, theoretical and practical breadth of the field, and that engages with local knowledge, geopolitical contexts and lived realities of Palestine. The Academy provides a unique learning experience for its students through its BA program, taught by acclaimed local and international visiting lecturers, including Jumana Emil Abboud, Yazid Anani, Emily Jacir, Mohanad Yaqubi, Vera Tamari, Tirdad Zolghadr, along with visitors from all around the world including Prof. David Harvey, Prof. W.J.T. Mitchell, Prof. Nada Shabout, John Halaka and Michael Rakowitz. The Academy’s BA program is currently accredited by its main partner, The Oslo National Academy of the Arts, and has been supported since its inception by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The International Academy of Art, Palestine was invited to organize the opening show of a new exhibition space at the French – German Cultural Center in Ramallah, Palestine. Director of the Academy, Tina Sherwell, curated the Inaugural Exhibition entitled Disrupted Intimacies.

The new vibrant space provides an important opportunity to showcase new ideas and experimentation in the field of the arts. It will be a location for cultural exchange and will focus primarily on contemporary art. For 2016 students of the International Art Academy Palestine will take over for a period of time and manage the space as their gallery by experimenting with their own curatorial and organizational concepts. "We see our new space as a laboratory and platform for exchange. It is not supposed to be merely a presentation space for art from France or Germany but a creative space for the display of international, contemporary positions – a space that we would like to offer to the local art scene and its audience," says Laura Hartz, director of Goethe-Institute Ramallah.

The opening exhibition Disrupted Intimacies presents both recently produced artworks and selected pieces from the graduates of IAAP.

Definitions of Intimacy suggest a closeness, familiarity, a deep understanding of place and subject- even privacy of expression, suitable for telling secrets. Intimacy is also defined as "a process – not a thing. It takes place over time and is not stagnant." While disrupted is understood as to throw into confusion or disorder, to interrupt a normal continuance. Juxatposing these ideas aims to point to one of many conditions or 'states' experienced by Palestinians in our daily lives particularly in relations to each other, ourselves and our bodies but also familiar places and cherished landscapes, everyday objects and keepsakes. These interruptions and discontinuities create deeply embelished absences and temporary fragile coherences. Broadly gathered under the theme the works in this show explore questions of love, domestic spaces and bodyscapes, loneliness and nostalgia from the prism of disrupted intimacies.

The exhibition features the works of Noor Abed, Rana Samara, Lama Takruri, Abdallah Awwad, Mahdi Baragithi, Reema Al-Tawil, Ayed Arafah, Bisan Abu Eisheh, Hasan Daraghmeh, Sahar Al-Khatib.

Noor Abed’s video work With Love examines the machinery and its representations of occupation. It expresses the psychological structure, its symptoms and mental deformation, She says, "Through my lived experience and observations of Palestinian society, I became particularly interested in social transformation in relation to the theory of internal colonization. With Love questions the very concepts of, psychological violence, desire and systematic knowledge specifically regarding its movement and occupation, of the body."

Rana Samara’s paintings are inspired by her conversations with women about intimate and taboo questions of female sexuality, virginity, intimacy, sexual desire, gender norms and their convictions, which she explores through large scale paintings of domestic spaces.

Lama Taruki's How could it hurt you when it looks so good, examines the transformations of the city of Ramallah driven by continual observation of these contradictions, she focuses on investigating recent transformations in Palestinian society, with emphasis on the influence of neoliberalism in reshaping collective taste her installation is a fake cardboard show-room that mimics such venues that have accompanied the real estate boom in the city.

Abdallah Awwad's animated film, explored the question of loneliness and alienation in the city through a single figure. He says, "My body bears witness to continuous blows the blows are repetitive, similar, with barely any sound The borders of my personality are drawn on my body on a daily basis, everyone traces a line on it, and the lines are all repetitive until they become meaningless."

Mahdi Baraghithi explores the space of manufacturing of the Arab male body in his piece Factories, in which he uses his own body to probe current religious and national stereotypes to highlight diversity outside dominant imagery that reveals more vulnerable and intimate facets of male identity.

Reema al Tawil, Ayed Arafeh and Bisan Abu Eisheh all engage with family archives through different perspectives. Tawil, whose father was bodyguard to late President Yassir Arafat, explores the position of her father behind the scenes of political moments, while Ayed Arafeh’s work revisits his family album of 70's and 80's through paintings that reflect on transformation of intimate social relations and their representation. Bisan Abu Eisheh uses his father's letters to his mother from prison as his point of departure to question the empty rhetoric of political speeches.

Hassan Daraghmeh and Sahar Al-Khatib probe the traces of the absences of human relations, Al Khatib through working with assemblages of found chairs and Daraghmeh through exploring stillness and movement in the Palestinian landscapes.


The exhibition ran until the 18th of November, and selected works from the show continue to be on view at the International Academy of Art, Palestine that welcomes invitations for the exhibition to tour.


© Text: Dr. Tina Sherwell
Director of The International Academy of Art, Palestine, and Curator of the exhibition Disrupted Intimacies.
© Photos: The artists and IAAP

Disrupted Intimacies

4 - 18 November 2015

Opening show of a new exhibition space
at the French - German Cultural Center
in Ramallah, Palestine

Organized by:

International Academy of Art Palestine
Aref AI-Aref House, Behind Arab Bank-AI-Bireh Branch, AI-Bireh-Ramallah
Website / Email

Noor Abed, Rana Samara, Lama Takruri, Abdallah Awwad, Mahdi Baragithi, Reema Al-Tawil, Ayed Arafah, Bisan Abu Eisheh, Hasan Daraghmeh, Sahar Al-Khatib.

Curator: Tina Sherwell

The International Academy of Art, Palestine welcomes invitations for the exhibition to tour.

Back to Top