Rula Halawani
Jerusalem Calling Statement
May I invite you one more time to my city for one last broadcast? Could you please bring back the beautiful days of the past, when people from all over Palestine could reach the streets of the old city freely? The Jerusalem of my childhood was filled with life. Today, when I walk the streets, these memories haunt me. At night, the emptiness of the softly lit streets exposes the vulnerability of the old city and heightens its drama. By conceptually inviting the ‘broadcast artists’, symbols of our culture who created the original programming for PBS (Palestine Broadcasting Service), ‘back’ to Jerusalem today in a symbolic visual and audio ‘broadcast’, I will attempt to repopulate the streets with familiar faces and our Palestinian cultural legacy. I would like the audience to confront the questions I tried to address with my work, the most important of which is: what would the PBS's reflection be on the present day city?
I hope the audiences of Jerusalem Calling will contemplate new associations with the already heavily layered analogies and narratives connected to historical sites; neighborhoods in the old city of Jerusalem that all three monotheistic religions lay claim to. I hope to draw attention to the more discreet and inconspicuous residential neighborhoods of my city, in which the traces of the historical Palestinian presence can only be found in the architecture itself. Buildings, homes and neighborhoods that were previously Palestinian-owned, that were loved, cared for, and passed down over hundreds of years by our growing families, are now occupied by Israelis who hang their flags from the windows and along the streets.
Between the years of 1936-1948, the PBS transmitted prominent cultural leaders and musical artists over radio waves, from the city of Jerusalem into the distant realms of rural Palestine. This radio, broadcast in both public and private spaces, strengthened community ties by gathering Palestinians around receivers to listen to the voices and music. Uniting people from the city to the countryside was the spoken cadence of the radio station’s call sign: “This is Jerusalem calling on 443 and 522 meters.”
WE must write that the project was funded by AFAC!
As a native of occupied East Jerusalem, Rula Halawani began her artistic career by registering the difficulties of living under a protracted political conflict. Halawani’s early works capture the many aspects of this reality, from the tedious moments of attempting to perform daily tasks under the restrictions of military occupation to the cyclical onset of violent siege that transforms Palestinian neighbourhoods, towns, and cities into overnight war zones.
After several years of photographing the stark imagery that defines the everyday lives of Palestinians, Halawani increasingly focused on the spatial implications of the occupation by documenting its built environments and structures: the meticulous system of architecture that serves as one of its central mechanisms. Recently, she has turned her lens towards the traces of lives and history that can still be found in often overlooked details, whether in the material culture of Palestinian society or the transformed landscapes of her childhood.
Born in 1964, Rula Halawani holds a Bachelor of Art degree in Advanced Photography from the University of Saskatchewan in Canada (1989); and a Master of Art degree in Photographic Studies from the University of Westminster, London (2001). Halawani is based in Jerusalem, where, in addition to her artistic practice, she was the founding director and an associate professor of the Photography program at Birzeit University.
Halawani’s exhibitions include the Mediterranean Women Forum, Jerez del la Frontera, Cádiz (2017); The Hagop Kevorkian Center, New York (2016), National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington DC (2016); Ayyam Gallery, Beirut (2016); Ayyam Gallery, 12 Alserkal Avenue, Dubai (2016); Selma Feriani Gallery, London (2013, 2010); Al Hoash Gallery, Jerusalem (2009); and Botanique Museum, Brussels. Halawani has featured in recent collective exhibitions at the Instituto Valenciano de Arte Moderno, Valencia (2017); Palestinian Museum, Birzeit (2017); Metropolitan State University, Denver (2017); Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburg (2015); MART Museum, Rovereto (2014); FotoFest Biennial, Houston (2014); Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2012); and BOZAR, Palace for Fine Arts, Brussels (2011).
Halawani’s photographs are housed in the international collections of the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Nadour Collection, Germany; Victoria & Albert Museum, London; The British Museum; London, The Khalid Shoman Foundation, Amman; and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, among others.
Palestine (2008), the artist’s first monograph, was published by La Lettre Volée, Brussels in conjunction with her mid career retrospective at the Botanique Museum.
In 2016, Halawani received a residency fellowship at the Camargo Foundation in Cassis, France.