We Refuse to be Scapegoats is my first solo exhibition in the UK for the last ten years. Curated by Iliyana Nedkova, the exhibition features a series of new moving image works with a soundscape by Wayne Brown. It represents my findings from a long-term research deriving from my own family history, and in particular, the histories, memories and impact of the Jewish Shoah (Holocaust) and the Palestinian Nakba (meaning ‘catastrophe’ or ‘disaster’) on ensuing generations in diverse geopolitical contexts.
This artistic interrogation draws from two sources. Firstly, my own video and audio archive, including my research trips to Poland in 1993 and 1996, Israel and occupied Palestine in 1995, and Scotland in 2016. Secondly, the online archives selected from Israeli and Palestinian non-governmental organisations, human rights charities and media resources such as Breaking the Silence, an organisation of veteran soldiers who have served in the Israeli military.Taking the form of a multi-channel video and sound installation, the exhibition offers an immersive experience of cross-generational dialogues and visual interactions across landscapes and between people, including Palestinians, Israelis, Polish and German women living under occupation.
We Refuse to be Scapegoats was initially scheduled for 14 – 30 January 2021 at P21 Gallery – London-based charitable trust promoting the understanding of contemporary Middle Eastern and North African art and culture.
Due to the British Government announcement from 15 December 2020 of new COVID-19 restrictions, including temporary closures of all public galleries and museums in London, We Refuse to be Scapegoats has been rescheduled and will open at P21 Gallery as soon as it is safe to.
The exhibition is accompanied by an online publication of new writings by Caterina Albano, Iliyana Nedkova and myself. I am grateful for the contributions to the exhibition from Dominik Czechowski, Tony Fletcher, Heather Kiernan, Jonathan Samuels at SamProjects, John Talbot, Mare Tralla and Yahya Zaloom at P21 Gallery.
- The first on our list of recommnedations is a 82 min recording of the Jewish Network for Palestine webinar held on 3 December 2020 featuring Prof. Shlomo Sand who speaks about his books on the topic of Jewish identity and his most recent book The Imagined Race: From Judeophobia to Zionism (Hebrew, 2020) with Prof. Haim Bresheeth-Zabner WATCH HERE
- Our next recommendation is a 22 page book chapter When Yaffa Met ( J)Yaffa by Honaida Ghanim on the intersections between the Holocaust and the Nakba through a deep reading of Rashid Hussein’s poem Love and the Ghetto (1963) DOWNLOAD HERE
- Next is this homage to the war journalist Robert Fisk presented by London’s Sands Films Studio in December 2020. It includes a 155 min exclusive screening of the film This is Not a Movie. Robert Fisk and Politics of Truth (dir. Yung Chang, 2020) documenting his life work and vision through a thoughtful interview and skilfully edited archive material including from Sabra and Shatila, Syria and Bosnia. WATCH HERE
- We have joined the virtual reading group which will explore Hannah Arendt’s publication Between Past and Future (1968) in the context of Richard Saltoun Gallery’s On Hannah Arendt 12-month exhibition programme. It is in collaboration with the Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and Humanities at Bard College, Canada. The first reading was held on 13 January 2021 and focussed on the Preface. The Gap Between Past & Future with an introduction by Lyndsey Stonebridge WATCH ON DEMAND
- We continue to explore Hannah Arendt’s legacy through the writing of Lyndsey Stonebridge, Professor of Humanities and Human Rights at the University of Birmingham and author of Placeless People: Writing, Rights, and Refugees (Oxford University Press). The article concludes with Arendt’s message: Think for yourself. Expect and prepare for the worst, but think and act for something better. The impossible is always possible. READ MORE
During a demonstration in London in 2019, I heard the Palestinian youth activist Ahed Tamimi defiantly proclaim that she refused to be a victim, that she had reached the point of no longer being scared to speak out. Fear is the weapon that silences us. The fact is that we still live in an era of camps, detention centres and ghettos echoing what Louis McNeice declared in his 1944 anti-war poem Prayer Before Birth ‘tall walls wall us’. These are only some of the powerful words and voices of activists and artists alike I have included in my new moving image works featured in We Refuse to be Scapegoats.
The exhibition We Refuse to be Scapegoats encapsulates Skelton’s conviction that the struggle for equality must still haunt us lest we forget to remember the misuse of power and the cost in human lives and sufferings. In Israel and occupied Palestine territories, as well as in the numerous other zones of conflict where human rights abuse takes place, the past is no longer the past since it functions within the perpetual flow of multiple current crises. Iliyana Nedkova, 2020
I am not yet born, console me. I fear that the human race may with tall walls wall me, with strong drugs dope me, with wise lies lure me, on black racks rack me, in blood-baths roll me… Louis McNeice, 1944
I very much doubt that Israel would have existed or the way it existed if not for the Holocaust. Amira Hass, 2015
We must think of our histories together, however difficult that may be, in order for there to be a common future. And that future must include Arabs and Jews, free of any exclusionary, denial-based schemes for shutting out one side by the other, either theoretically or politically. This is the real challenge. The rest is much easier Said, 2007