Jawad Al Malhi
"I have been watching, for some time now, this recurring spectacle both from near and afar, through the frame of the TV screen of events across the Arab world, and from my balcony that overlooks my birthplace Shufhat Refugee Camp in East Jerusalem. I used to debate politics into the early hours of the day around a small wooden table- now I listen to the televised debates discussing the region and further a field, alone until the break of dawn. I used to run with passion for change, my body a palimpsest that testifies to a risk filled youth full of participation. No longer able to run and lead the pack, I watch the spectacle of encounters, of dreams of a different tomorrow, now a ritualistic performance caught in a time loop of learned identity expressions, of an unfinished narrative.
No longer engulfed by idealism, it is the detail of the crowd, the paradoxes and idiosyncrasy of human activity that captures my attention. I am drawn to the serendipity and surrealism of the scene, to the prolonged moments of waiting in between the encounters and to the way in which everyday life takes places in and around the main event- agile boys who climb the electricity poles for a better vantage points, the hidden women behind curtains, the street vender who uses the moment to gain extra customers, the diverted traffic, the gaze and gestures of the observers, the commentators, those who broadcast the national news those who relay the gossip of bravado, and the figures who inform the authorities, both near and afar there is semblance in the performance. All this is written on the body and choreographed in liminal spaces and symbolic sites of nations. Public spaces are filled with the relationships of temporary clusters of people watching and waiting, who contour the urban terrain. In particular my gaze is drawn to the moment after, what intrigues me most, some twenty years on, is not the pursuit of an ideal but, the moment after, as the gas clears, as the tires burn to ashes, as the banners fall, when the cameras leave, when the debate is over and as people return to their routine. This is a moment when exhaustion fills the body contouring its form along with uncertainty. It is a moment of hesitation; in this fleeting moment, people appear as fragile shells, it as though light passes through them, reflecting shadows onto one another, clusters of bodies and empty spaces, the residues of an ideal.
I envisage these figures inhabiting my canvases, preserving the transience of the moment in which silence is articulated through gestures of the body, and the echo of questions hang heavily in the air. I intend to capture the serendipity of detail of the everyday, the looks, the moment when all dissipates at the same time the works place us the viewer at centre stage, continually being drawn in by the detail and the gaze of the figures." - Jawad Al Malhi
Jawad al Malhi is a Palestinian inter-disciplinary artist from Shufat Refugee Camp. He began sketching during his teenage years in the camp before graduating to large-scale works. He uses painting, video, photography, and installations to capture transformations overtime. His work has been exhibited in Japan, Jerusalem, Sharjah, and Palestine. More information can be found here.