CHAPTER 31 : AN ODD PIECE OF RESEARCH ON THE MANY VIRTUES OF THE ORIENTAL IMAGINATION
Our launch project ‘Chapter 31’ - held at the P21 Gallery in London - took audiences on a journey into utopian and dystopian visions of the future of Palestine as imagined by sixteen artists. The exhibition took its name from a chapter in a satirical novel by celebrated Palestinian author Emile Habibi in which an alien invasion allows the protagonist to consider the impact of Israeli colonisation on the Palestinians who have remained behind in historic Palestine.
Included in the show were new commissions in film, sculpture, installation, photography, collage and painting made by artists living and working in historic Palestine, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and throughout the wider diaspora. This was accompanied by a programme of events, including workshops, film screenings, musical and theatrical performances.
Since 1948, much of the diverse body of work that has come out of Palestine has dealt - whether directly or indirectly - with the personal and political consequences of the Nakba and Israeli colonisation. Due in part to the numerous assaults on Palestinian culture, history and identity over the years, examining and retelling the past has taken on a vital importance.
We have long been interested in considering what impact these and other narratives about past and present Palestine have had on different concepts of a near or distant Palestinian future. However, the main aim of ‘Chapter 31’ has been to give contributors the freedom and space to consider the future of Palestine in new, experimental ways without having to first and foremost justify their right to exist.
At the core of the project was a wish to move away from the familiar representation of Palestinians as either militants or victims by introducing UK audiences to some of the many creative forms that the Palestinian struggle can take. By including artists, architects, performers, filmmakers and scholars in our exhibition, Sarha Collective set out to showcase the complexity of what Palestine is, as well as the range of possibilities of what it might be in the future.
We support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and, as such, do not accept funding or sponsorship from Israel or any organisations / individuals that support the occupation or receive funding from the Israeli government. We oppose normalization and co-existence projects which do not call for an end to occupation and Israel’s recognition of the rights of all Palestinians - within the ‘48 borders, in the West Bank, Gaza and in exile - under international law.