Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, July 2007, page 51

Music & Arts

Clarifying Vision for Contemporary Art in Palestine

(L-r) Recognized local artist Nabil Anani; Palestinian Minister of Culture Bassam Al-Salhi; independent curator Salwa Mikdadi; and Vera Tamari, director of Birzeit Virtual Gallery (Photo Courtesy International Academy of Art Palestine).

THE INTERNATIONAL Academy of Art Palestine sponsored a two-day seminar on “Contemporary Art and Higher Art Education” in the West Bank city of Ramallah on March 27 and 28. Palestinian Minister of Culture Bassam Al-Salhi, and Mazen Qupty, chairman of the board of directors for the Palestinian Association for Contemporary Art, gave keynote addresses to an audience which included Palestinian and international experts in arts and culture.

This September the first class of students will enter the Academy’s four-year Bachelor of Arts program. The Academy aims to produce professional artists and simultaneously serve as a progressive and productive artistic space within the Palestinian and Arab context to promote cultural change. Anticipating the start of classes, seminar participants, including representatives from the Academy’s partner institute, the Oslo National Academy of Arts in Norway, discussed methods of teaching contemporary visual arts that will encourage plurality, richness, and diversity.

Henrik Placht, an extraordinary artist from the Oslo Academy, worked for more than four years to organize, lobby, curate, network, fund-raise and finally give birth to the Academy in Palestine. It is his hope that the institution will provide an alternative form of peaceful resistance offering new images of Palestinians to the local population and international community.

Deans and professors from the UK’s Winchester Art School at the University of Southampton, Harvard University and Birzeit University, along with independent artists, curators and art historians, and even famous artists, joined in person or via teleconferencing from abroad. The Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Academy, which will fund the Academy for its first three years, was represented at the seminar by the program adviser from the Representative Office of Norway, Ms. Raheek Ranawi.

The establishment of this Academy may not solve all the problems faced by Palestinians as they seek to build their country, but it will provide hope. Students will understand the importance of art and its relationship to cultural advancement as they are encouraged to express themselves creatively.

For more information on the International Academy of Art Palestine visit <www.artacademy.ps>; write to P.O. Box 867, Ramallah, Palestinian Territories, via Israel; or telephone +972 (02) 296 7601.

Maria C. Khoury, Ed. D

[Editor’s Note: Dr. Khoury seeks partners for the Academy project for long-term sustainability, and invites those who wish to help to e-mail her at <[email protected]>.].