Iraqi Artist Offers Nostalgic View of Jaffa

The Electronic Intifada will be running reviews of art shows from London's Shubbak festival in coming weeks. 

In the meantime, though, the [Dis]Orient exhibition at the Sumarria Lunn Gallery features work from Iraqi artist Nedim Kufi which highlights, in elegiac and wistful form, Jaffa's Palestinian past. 

Kufi's exhibition includes his Nether Home works, reflecting on his own past in Baghdad and on friends from his 1970s student days, in the light of the war with Iran in the 1980s and two US-led invasions since then. 

His art asks whether people he knew are still living in Iraq, or even still alive. Kufi pairs this work with a set of images which perhaps evoke the same feelings in Palestinians originating from the city of Jaffa, occupied by Israel in 1948. 

According to the gallery website, the works consist of "photographs of the Palestinian residents of Jaffa during the 1930s. 

They originally appeared in a book by a Dutch photographer who travelled in Palestine, Frank Scholten.

"Discovering the book by chance in a second-hand store, Kufi was moved to transpose real Dutch flowers, which he found between the pages of the book, onto Scholten's images, to preserve this cultural juxtaposition. 

Here evidence of the Jaffa residents' existence is now framed within the perception of those who never knew them in a relationship that simultaneously affirms and subverts the Orientalist notion of the 'other'." 

Nedim Kufi's work, alongside photographs from Tunisia and Morocco by Italian artist Rä di Martino, will be on display at London's Sumarria Lunn Gallery until 28 June. 

by Sarah Irving

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