Temporary Museum. For Palestine : Hazem Harb

20 October 2021 - 10 February 2022

The title of Hazem Harb's first institutional solo exhibition in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was "Temporary Museum. For Palestine." In this exhibition, the artist attempted to capture the lost legacies of the artist's home country Palestine in the form of archival materials that were displayed in vitrine cases within a museological context. Using collage-based techniques that incorporated photography and mixed media on a grand scale, the artist pieced together a temporary museum that showcased the fragmentariness of Palestine's history.


Harb had collected rare antique memorabilia of the history of Palestine on international online auctions in the past year. His findings dated as far back as 1779, and among his acquisitions were ancient maps of Palestine and Phoenicia, books of historical trade routes, family photographs, and even artworks depicting the Holy Land by Orientalist painters such as David Roberts (1796-1864), a contemporary of J.M.W. Turner. Placed in an installation-based exhibition setting, Hazem Harb invited the viewer to reflect on Palestine's history with the hope of establishing a permanent museum of his possessions for everybody to access in the future.


Conceived as an immersive exhibition experience, the show displayed enlarged historical black and white photographs of the Holy Land as backdrops for visitors to step inside, as if walking within three-dimensional remnants of a past history. Among them, existing works by Harb were placed in dialogue with a new large-scale installation made from olive oil containers, thereby showing the importance of Palestine's natural resources. Touching upon themes like diaspora, the practice of archiving, and a nostalgic yearning for lost histories, this exhibition presented the artist's deep reflection on his roots between the past, present, and future.


The exhibition was curated by Cima Azzam at the Maraya Art Centre.