Through a documentary aesthetic, the photographic work of Palestinian artist Ahlam Shibli (born 1970) addresses the contradictory implications of the notion of home, notably the loss of home and the fight against that loss, but also with restrictions and limitations that the idea of home imposes on the individuals and groups marked by repressive identity politics. Examples of places where the problematic is encountered include the Palestinian areas; monuments that commemorate members of the French Resistance against the Nazis together with French fighters in the colonial wars against peoples who demanded their own independence; the bodies of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals from Eastern societies; and the communities of children in Polish orphanages. Death, Shibli’s latest photographic series, especially conceived for this retrospective, shows how Palestinian society preserves the presence of the “martyrs”— in the artist’s own words. This series contains a wide representation of the absent ones through photographs, posters, graves and graffiti displayed as a form of resistance.
The work of Ahlam Shibli falls within the continuity of projects at the Jeu de Paume that propose new narrative forms in the field of documentary photography, as witnessed by the exhibitions devoted to Sophie Ristelhueber (2009), Bruno Serralongue (2010) and Santu Mofokeng (2011).
The exhibition also includes Death (2011-12), Shibli’s latest photographic series, especially conceived for this retrospective, which shows how Palestinian society preserves “the presence of the martyrs”— in the artist’s own words.
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