Contemporary Heritage is mixed media, visual artist, Harb’s first solo at the gallery since 2015 and will bring together a fresh body of work the cuts across disciplines and continues to push the boundaries of the contemporary art framework.
This new body of work sees the artist observe the notion of heritage as unfixed and fluid. Underscoring Palestinian academic, Edward Said’s concept of Orientalism whereby through the imposition of soft powers history is reshaped for various agendas, Harb observes that while transferred from generation-to-generation, heritage also collides with colonial discourses resulting in new meanings that subsume the stories of the original owners who are often forcibly absent.
A consistent thread throughout Harb’s practice has been the preoccupation with the Palestinian people and their collective and subjective narratives which he investigates both in the literal sense - referring to archives and academic texts as the foundations of his work and in the sense of physical investigation through the deployment of his materials. The artist, in continual flow, oscillates between mediums, drawn to those which he maintains best convey the sentiments of each new concept. Harb has previously worked with film, photography, installation, collage and textile and now leans towards a fresh mode of representation that reconfigures the past.
As well as a large-scale collage triptych in Harb’s now-ubiquitous contemporary collage format Contemporary Heritage will see the artist produce new works in relief form, transposing 1920s Palestinian archival imagery into etchings that come to form compelling contemporary artefacts much like those of the forgotten societies now resigned to museums. As the debate surrounding looted antiquities looms large in the west, Harb’s reliefs, presented as the findings of archaeologists, are at once preserving history but also highlighting the ease at which certain communities, absent from the rhetoric and its presentation, become reduced to a historical exhibit in a foreign land.