Glass keys (Hakim Jamain, 2012): part of the Museum of Manufactured Response to Absence

MinRASY projects is set up and led by Rana Sadik, a Kuwaiti collector of Palestinian origin. Not content with just collecting art she decided to start organizing art events and support the work of artists directly.

The first cycle of art projects focus on the specter of Palestinian presence in Kuwait. Before the Gulf War a full 25% of Kuwait’s inhabitants were Palestinians; the first came before 1948 to work in the oil sector, but the creation of the state of Palestine and the annexation of the West Bank in 1967 caused waves of Palestinians to migrate to the welcoming Gulf State with its employment opportunities. Since Saddam Hussein championed the Palestinian cause as part of his pan-Arab discourse, many Palestinians welcomed his annexation of Kuwait in 1990; as a result the Palestinian community dwindled from about 500.000 to 45.000 after the Gulf War.

One can assert that Palestinians contributed a large share to the development of Kuwait; Rana Sadik tries to bring them back in her way. First she organized a booth for Khalil Rabah’s ‘United States of Palestine Airlines‘ project at the World Travel Expo in Kuwait, 2011.

A second project featured UAE-based photographer Tarek el Ghoussein’s self-portraits in giant infrastructural projects of the Gulf. The photographs were mounted as billboards in Hawali, Kuwait, as if they were announcements of a building to come. Hawali was one of the neighborhoods where many Palestinians lived.

The third project in the series was based on ‘Men in the Sun’ by Palestinian writer Ghassan Kanafani (1936–72). This harrowing short story describes the ordeal of three Palestinian refugees as they converge on Basra, southern Iraq, and decide to hide in a water tanker to enter Kuwait, their dream destination (they all die because of the heat inside the tanker). MinRASY commissioned a new work by sound artist Tarek Atoui, who made recordings in the Kuwaiti desert; the project was shown there originally.

The last chapter in this cycle was ‘The Museum of Manufactured Response to Absence‘. About 20 artists made new works of museum quality to commemmorate, in one way or another, the Kuwaiti-Palestinian past. The show, made to look like a museum, was curated by Ala Younes and was exhibited in the Kuwaiti Museum of Modern Art in June 2012. One can download the catalog here.

The booth of the United States of Palestine Airlines (installation by Khalil Rabah) in the World Travel Expo, Kuwait

 

Written by: RobertK Last modified: 21st Nov 2012
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