Home A M Qattan Foundation Media Video Gallery About "We Shall be Monsters" exhibition

About "We Shall be Monsters" exhibition

We Shall Be Monsters

Emily Jacir, Curator
It is true, we shall be monsters, cut off from all the world; but on that account we shall be more attached to one another.  
 Mary Shelley, Frankenstein 


We Shall Be Monsters brings together newly commissioned works from the ten artists who were shortlisted for this 10th anniversary edition of the 2018 Young Artist of the Year Award (YAYA 2018). The locus of the exhibition is derived from the artistic practices of the participants whose works were developed over a period of ten months in close collaboration with the curator.


The focus during the work period was the creation of a platform based on the cultural, political and social histories these young artists were exploring and in fostering a space in which each of their research topics was furthered and became part of lively collective discussions and exchanges. Each participant shared the body of knowledge behind their project with the group, and contributed to organising seminars and meetings that were accompanied by in-depth conversations of the methods and motivations behind the work. In leaving YAYA 2018 without a theme, the artist participants were encouraged to contribute to a collective space of knowledge production and to re-evaluate and enhance their practices in the context of a broader artistic discourse with their peers as well as the invited seminar guests. A special mentorship programme was set up to connect these young artists with previous YAYA participants in order to foster a cross-generational dialogue and exchange of knowledge. In June, this culminated in a ten-day workshop in Biella, Italy at the University of Ideas at Cittadellarte, which focused on full-day discussions on the projects, as well as film screenings and walks.


What comes to the fore in the projects in We Shall Be Monsters are explorations of stitched, broken, ruptured, wounded, dismembered and buried bodies and their parts. Many of the works focus on the position of the eye and collapsing and shifting perspectives and points of view. Power, history and the question of who is seeing is examined through narrative experiments into rupture, glitches, and locating the broken body in a multitude of identities and topographies that are reflected throughout the exhibition. The works oscillate between excavations and burials, reaching to the past and into the future simultaneously.


In the works of these artists the personal and collective are deeply intertwined, as in Ola Zaitoun’s psychologically charged paintings depicting the disfigured bodies of women, or in the dismembered braids of hair presented as evidence of resistance in Safaa Khateeb’s photographs. These pieces speak not only of dead cells intertwined with living tissue but very much about the cells’ continuation to grow. The buried, stitched body becomes a document serving as a time capsule and message to the future in Haitham Haddad’s work as the eye of the drone threatens above. Trans-generational transmissions, memory, and challenging how we collectively and individually construct our history, are also prevalent in the works of the other artists. Drones pass through Firas Shehadeh’s video, where the eye of a wanderer constantly negotiates different proximities from the border zones. Dina Mimi investigates the gaze of the skulls of Algerian resistance fighters that were violently removed from their bodies and kept in a museum in Paris. Leila Abdelrazaq’s animated comic collapses time through narrating the personal tragedy of a stillborn baby to question collective memory, loss and survival. Others base their work on exploring the possibilities of an empowered critical cartography. Dima Srouji collapses space and time and reveals a personal record of Jerusalem through bodily excavations beneath the surface of the city. Yusef Audeh’s objects and paintings follow an anonymous sexualised male body in the traverse between economy and cryptocurrency.  A hart (deer) and a blue heron poetically narrate physical movement through spaces and a slow movement across time in Alaa Abu Asad’s video. Meanwhile, Walid Al Wawi challenges the status quo through the parallel metaphor of a parachute’s objective as a mechanism to slow down the fall of a human body.


We Shall Be Monsters takes place in the A. M. Qattan Foundation’s new building, situated in the Al-Tireh neighborhood of Ramallah, a few hundred metres from Nelson Mandela Square, an apropos location to assemble these parts, which both unearth the past and envision the future, as we reflect together on this fraught transitional moment.