Qalandiya, the first ever Palestinian Contemporary Art Biennale has been held in Ramallah. One of the most popular displays was a pop art-inspired needlework portrait is of Mohamed Bouazizi, the market stall holder who sparked the beginning of the Arab Spring when he burned himself to death in protest at being rough-handled by the police.
The biennial took its name from one of the most famous symbols of Palestinian separation, the Israeli checkpoint at Qalandiya, which is one of the main crossing points between the West Bank and Israel.
Displaying art installations in hard-to-access Palestinian villages scattered across the West Bank was a gamble, but it worked. People flocked to the Abwein village for a day packed with art and fun.
Using villages as art galleries, and borrowing its name from a crowded refugee camp and Israeli military checkpoint, Qalandiya International was a chance for Palestinian artists of the West Bank, Jerusalem, Israel and Gaza to get together and overcome their politically fragmented world.
Jerusalem artist, Jumana Manna’s short movie was inspired by a 1942 picture of a high society masquerade hosted by Palestinian politician Alfred Roch, a reenactment that has won Manna the festival’s “Young Artist of the Year” award.
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