Postmasters Gallery is very pleased to announce "The Thousand and One Nights" - an exhibition of contemporary artists from Palestine curated by Mary Evangelista with Michael Connor.
"The Thousand and One Nights" brings together photographs, video, and paintings by six contemporary artists from Palestine whose works explore the political dimension of time. They reflect the conditions of conflict and occupation, but are not entirely defined by them.
In the book "The Thousand and One Nights," a young woman named Scheherazade - who had read "various books of histories, and the lives of preceding kings, and stories of past generations" - tells a series of stories to a cruel king to delay her impending execution. The king, enraptured by her unending tales, delays her execution night after night. Through the process of listening, the king's wrath is assuaged.
Like Scheherazade's tales, the works in this exhibition are political, but their messages are coded and delivered with tactical patience. Several of the works explore the way that conflicts play out across generations. Shadi Habib Allah's animation "On-going Tale" depicts an age-old conflict between man and beast that continues for generations, with neither side ever emerging triumphant. Sharif Waked's "Jericho First" draws on imagery from the 8th century, reflecting on the visual symbols of power and its persistence throughout human history. Several of the artists explore their relationship with an older generation more explicitly. For his "Peres" series, Taysir Batniji photographs patriarchal portraits that hang in prominent positions in Gaza shops. The images are displayed out of respect and honor, but Batniji's re-photography highlights the power dynamic at play in them. Jumana Manna's work "Familiar" exemplifies a different relationship with the older generation. In this photograph and video project, the artist (an adult in her early twenties) is breastfed by her mother, an image that seems both nurturing and discomfiting at the same time.
"The Thousand and One Nights" was embraced by Europeans in the 17th and 18th century as the symbol of 'the Orient', the fantasy of a golden land to the East. This land was portrayed as exotic and faraway, but it was actually closely connected to the West in many ways. It was also not a single land, but many lands and people, a cultural landscape far more varied and complex than any one symbol could convey. Instead of encouraging an exchange between cultures, "The Thousand and One Nights" only created misconceptions and reinforced imagined barriers between West and East. This exhibition takes on this title in hopes of avoiding a similar fate.