Landcapes of Desire – forthcoming visual arts exhibition at the Mosaic Rooms
by Daniel Haim
An exciting exhibition of drawings by renowned activist artist John Halaka will open at the Mosaic Rooms on 6 May 2011.
The drawings, from the series Landscapes of Desire, take their inspiration from the ruins of Palestinian homes and villages destroyed during and after the 1948 exodus. Halaka uses the images to reflect an ongoing effort to annihilate a Palestinian culture that refuses to disappear and an indigenous people that refuse to be swept away. Depicting the ruins of stone homes from devastated Palestinian villages such as Kafr Bir’im, Lifta, Al-Bassa, A’mka and Kuikat, the drawings are a declaration that the persistence of memory is a crucial act of political resistance and cultural survival.
The images are rendered with ink and rubber stamped words. The repeated stamping of the words defines the forms, textures and tones of the landscapes. These words become a visual mantra, compelling us to ‘remember’, ‘resist’, ‘return’, ‘rebuild’ and prepare to ‘forgive’.
Halaka comments: “I view forgiveness as one of the most challenging, yet the most critical final stage of a successful non-violent resistance campaign waged by the Palestinians against their occupiers… History teaches all who have suffered or continue to suffer under the tyranny of an oppressor, that without cultivating an emotional state of forgiveness the victims risk becoming the monster they wish to destroy.”
John Halaka is of Palestinian descent and was born in El Mansoura, Egypt, in 1957. He is a Professor of Painting and Drawing at the University of San Diego, where he has taught since 1991. Halaka is an activist artist whose creative work serves as a vehicle for meditation on personal, cultural and political concerns. He creates images that raise questions, for himself as well as for the viewer, about some of the pressing issues of our time. He has exhibited his work in solo and group exhibitions across the United States. This is his first exhibition in the UK.