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Monday, May 16, 2016

A museum without exhibits for a people without a history

How appropriate. The New York Times reports that the $24 million 'Palestinian Museum' (ostensibly 'privately funded') will open this week in Bir Zeit near Ramallah, but due to infighting it won't have any exhibits.
The long-planned — and much-promoted — inaugural exhibit, “Never Part,” highlighting artifacts of Palestinian refugees, has been suspended after a disagreement between the museum’s board and its director, which led to the director’s ouster. President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority and other dignitaries are expected to attend the opening ceremony, but a spokeswoman acknowledged on Sunday that “there will not be any artwork exhibited in the museum at all.”
Omar al-Qattan, the museum’s chairman, said Palestinians were “so in need of positive energy” that it was worthwhile to open even an empty building. “Symbolically it’s critical,” he said, conceding that the next phase, including the exhibits, “is the more exciting one.”
“Never Part,” developed over several years by the ousted director, Jack Persekian, was to feature artistic interpretations of things like keys and photographs that Palestinians around the world have kept from the homes they fled or were forced from in what is now Israel.
Mr. Persekian, who runs an art gallery called the Al Mamal Foundation for Contemporary Art in Jerusalem, said he had agreed to leave after the museum’s senior management unceremoniously told him that it no longer favored the project, but he said he did not know why.
“I can’t fathom what happened,” he said, offering a succinct description of the result of his work for the museum: “Waste.”
Mr. Qattan, the museum chairman, said that his team had decided that Mr. Persekian had not sufficiently built expertise among staff members during his tenure of three and a half years, and that outside artists had criticized his conception of the exhibition.
“We didn’t feel that what was delivered was up to scratch,” Mr. Qattan said.
But wait - it gets better. It seems that Mr. Persekian's successor has a slightly embellished resume.
The museum announced in a news release this month that it had named a new director, Mahmoud Hawari, who it called “the lead curator at the British Museum”and a specialist in early Islamic art, architecture and archaeology, among other topics.
A spokeswoman for the British Museum would not confirm that Mr. Hawari held the position of lead curator there, saying only that “he was a visiting academic at the British Museum.” A spokeswoman for Taawon said on Monday morning that the information in the release was based on a curriculum vitae that Mr. Hawari had provided.
In the news release by the Palestinian museum, Mr. Hawari said it would be an institution that “links Palestinians together, at home and in exile, wherever they may live.”
I guess when your entire existence is invented, it's kind of hard to stop lying....

But here's a hint of why Mr. Persekian was fired and his exhibit canceled: It seems that the museum's owners were afraid that someone might say something against the 'Palestinian Authority.'
For “Never Part,” Mr. Persekian said he had collected images of countless artifacts from Palestinians around the world, conducted Skype interviews to document the stories behind those artifacts and planned to include physical objects as well. The objects would have been collected locally — across the West Bank for exhibitions in the museum here in Birzeit, a university town next to Ramallah, and in cities around the world for versions presented there.
Mr. Persekian said he had intended to make all this material available to artists whose work involves archival material and research, and the artists could have interpreted the objects as they saw fit. For those in charge of the museum’s finances, he said, that may have caused unease.
“Maybe they didn’t want to take a risk with something that is so unpredictable and so uncontrollable,” he said.
Yeah, imagine if some of those 'Palestinians' started talking about the corruption of the 'Palestinian Authority' or saying that they have no interest in 'returning' to 'Palestine.'


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At 1:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

... Palestinians were “so in need of positive energy” ...

1930s/40s Palestinian leader Musa Alami said: "The people are in need of a great myth to fill their consciousness and imagination."

Sounds like Alami's myth finally has a showcase.

At 12:16 PM, Blogger NancyB said...

You have a great sense of humor! This really made me laugh - at how perfect it it and the absurdity of all it!


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