Visual artist Hazem Harb’s trajectory, spanning several decades, maintains an unwavering dialogue with his symbolically charged homeland.
Moving from Gaza to Rome to receive his MFA at The European Institute of Design, and then on to the UAE, Harb has learnt to navigate life as a liminal. Knowing that his place of origin can never be just a ‘land’, the artist unleashes an ever-evolving repertoire of artistic techniques to negotiate a space which has been carved up and re-drawn many times. His art is at once subsumed in deep locality, fuelled by personal insight, and entangled in conversations that cannot be easily separated from the global arena.
His practice is intended more as visual excavation than romanticisation of the Other, and through it, we can explore the paradoxical and pressured relations between people and places. Steering away from nostalgia and the fetishisation of displacement, he draws from academia, architecture, as well as European art traditions, to negotiate an axis of complex social and cultural relations; built and natural environments, longing and belonging.
Much like the artists of the early twentieth century who, through the deployment of collage, healed from the trauma of the first world war by binding together everyday and artistic experiences; Harb succeeds in materialising complex and unfamiliar terrain. Operating as a researcher, by collecting and synthesising archives of rarified ephemera including photographs, negatives and maps, Harb mediates his materials in a manner which dismantles them from a static space. Through a process of collage, layered down with geometric precision, he stitches visual artefacts together and forms fresh constructions that invite unheard discourses and a historical rethinking.