Sunset on Ramallah - by Andrew Turner via Flickr
CAIRO – 15 August 2017: Monday August14 saw the conclusion of the international five-day art event 'Shifting Ground – The Underground is not the Past', which was held in Ramallah, Palestine. It was the third off-site event for 'Sharjah Biennial 13 - Tamawuj' which runs from March 10 to October 22, 2017.
'Shifting Ground' began on Thursday August 10 and ended on Monday, August 14. The event included a symposium and ten artist publications, and relates to the topic of 'Earth'. It is for this reason that Ramallah was chosen, as the Palestinian relationship to the land, their Earth, is complex, defying the typically romanticized perception of the indigenous people's connection to their lands, especially in the occupied territory.
Curator Lara Khaldi explained to The National that “The relationship with earth is romanticized here because in order to be indigenous, you need to prove a link to the land and to nature.”
The symposium explored the links between various areas, from burial grounds, infrastructures and the underground, viewing them as more than just places, but as the way of exploring the Earth as an art medium itself. An example of this is especially potent in areas like Palestine, where occupation by Israeli forces has turned activities like the burial of the dead into complex political situations, with the corpses of Palestinians being held for decades.
Shifting Ground touched on a sensitive topic most people are either uncomfortable, ignorant, or all too aware of; colonialism's insidious effects, both in its active persecution of indigenous peoples to its longer reaching impact that has influenced the very earth, turning what once was a home to people into a political warfield, where death and conquest are recorded in the soil.