Khalil Rabah’s Palestinian Museum of Natural History and Humankind is an ongoing inquiry into the ways in which history is socially constructed through material embedded in identity and culture. Founded in 1995 and taking the historical and geopolitical context of Palestine as a point of departure, the Museum is an institution that produces and presents artifacts and artworks dating from prehistory to the present day. This ambitious, long-term project set out to disrupt iconic representations of Palestine and inadvertently became the first Palestinian national museum.
In this context, Khalil Rabah employs multiple forms of performative actions and presentation to investigate histories of removal, erasure, displacement, and marginalization. His work Relocation, Among Other Things addresses the phenomenon of nomadism, of lives suspended across different countries and homelands.
Initially commissioned for Manifesta 12, the installation is a collection of objects found, acquired, or hoarded from abandoned shops, homes, and industrial spaces. Rabah choreographs an ever-changing composition using strategies that mimic displays in museums, to present long loved, abandoned, or lost random items, including household staples such as pots, pans, and toys as well as tools, ropes, or broken furniture. On closer inspection, one notices the systematic way in which objects are installed. Chandeliers are grouped together, hangers are installed in rows, spring bedframes lie on top of each other, wheeled items are gathered in one corner. This categorization forms a sort of catalogue that retells, from an ontological perspective, the story of a life in constant flux, of packing and unpacking, of what is left behind and what is carried through, to be eventually slowly scattered along the way.
The work might reference exile and flight at first glance, but it also challenges upfront the core idea and purpose of a museum, acting as a museal investigation of sorts, conducted through a diasporic lens. “The Museum’s mission statement argues that the museum seeks to achieve that which is ‘impossible’. The inherently unreasonable task of encyclopaedic museums speaking to a universal history is one of the work’s permeable disclosures. Undergirding this is the inevitable and poignant impossibility of archiving a people, a place, a state, which remains under occupation, in constant free-fall—destruct and let go” .
CHRISTINE STREULI Falling apart (permanent version)
September 7 – October 28, 2023
While her paintings may appear impulsive and gestural, transposing a sense of an enigmatic, primordial force, they are in reality based on meticulous planning, including numeric simulations prepared in advance. The role of the digital realm in art and the question of the reproducibility of original gestures in painting are central to Streuli’s work. Her choice of intense, neon colors, the use of repetitive geometric patterns and references from major art movements almost exaggerate her concern with current questions around painting, intensified by the emergence of Artificial Intelligence.