Tightrope Walking

Palestinian Art in New York

Pro-Palestine Art Event Cancelled in NYC

On Thursday July 24th, Whitebox Art Center in New York City opened No Exit, a solo show featuring works by Palestinian artist Khaled Jarrar. The Israel Border Police denied artist Khaled Jarrar exit to travel to NYC for this project and his participation in the show Here and Elsewhere at the New Museum.


Photos – Khaled Jarrar

For the opening of No Exit, Jarrar was intended to Skype in to Whitebox. However, as the largest demonstrations in recent history shook the West Bank, Jarrar was unable to attend, even virtually. Instead, a live feed showed images of the protests in Ramallah.

Video by Khaled Jarrar at Qalandiya checkpoint, early morning July 25, 2014

Still, the show has gone on. It includes a new piece, which features a voice reading out the names of Palestinians killed in during Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, as well as a film, Bus Stop, depicting Palestinian children in the West Bank waiting for a school bus that never arrives.

Khaled Jarrar – Bus Stop

Responding to the current crisis in Gaza and the political nature of Jarrar’s work, No Exit was meant to have a second, allied component, 10 Days, 10 Ideas: An Incubator for Palestine at the small Undercurrent Projects on East 5th Street.

The second opening the same evening at Undercurrent Projects in the East Village, 10 Days, 10 Ideas, did not take place as scheduled. Owner Katie Peyton said that she did not approve of a line on the event flyer that read, “Undercurrent Projects and An Incubator for Palestine support Direct Action Front for Palestine and NYC Solidarity with Palestine.” She additionally stated that she was not comfortable with the show’s sponsor going anonymous when that had not been the case initially.

Curator Myriam Vanneschi explained that the incubator, or what she also describes as a series of workshops, were created after Jarrar could not physically be there and were conceived of with the artist’s support.

With controversy brewing over wording, the decision was made to move the discussion down the street to a bar on East 5th Street.


Katie Peyton of Undercurrent remarked in an email to exhibition organizers how her space, along with Whitebox, could not host “political activist meetings or sponsor political agendas.” While Whitebox is a nonprofit, at the mercy of funding agencies, which certainly creates a level of anxiety for any organization, it isn’t clear how Undercurrent, which is neither a nonprofit nor a commercial gallery, could be impacted by political meetings.
Compilation of an article by Hrag Vartanian at Hyperallergic

Exhibition  July 24th– August 7th 2014 at Whitebox Art Center
329 Broome St.
New York, New York Lower East Side 10002
United States of America

Thomas Büsch

Filmmaker, Founding Member and Secretary General of diyalog, promotion of cultural exchange with Turkey. Since 2012 he is also project manager of InEnArt.

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