The presence of absence - Sahar Alkhateeb

Artist Sahar Alkhateeb creates installations from second-hand furniture. Used chairs are deconstructed and reassembled into new shapes to pose questions about roots and identity.

sida-Sahar-Alkhateeb.jpgThe artist, Sahar Alkhateeb.

Sahar Alkhateeb is a Palestinian artist who lives and works in Sweden since 2015. This year, they have received a studio grant from Uppsala Municipality that aims to support newly graduated artists. The exhibition In the Presence of Absence includes an installation that shares the same name. It extends from floor to ceiling and consists of processed second-hand furniture made of wood, plastic, and metal pipes.

"Who do you become when you are separated from a struggle that has grown together with your identity? What is left of that self, when it has been cut off from what it was once built up of? That is neither a memory nor fully present. Strong words about the blood and origins, which can neither be fully owned nor lost. The expectation – of oneself and the society – to be authentic and sufficient."
Sahar Alkhateeb

The exhibition explores roots and identity as distance or gap. It tries to capture a strong longing for the Palestinian land – the red soil under the olive trees, the scent of cypresses – and how this longing for them carries conflicting emotions of Palestinian freedom struggle and individual freedom struggle.

“Don’t look for the Canaanite in you to prove your existence” writes Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, whose poetry collection In the presence of absence gives the exhibition its title. The Canaanite, a term for the prehistoric folk group in the Middle East is very much alive in Arabic literature. But what are the requirements to fulfil the role of a Canaanite? And how flexible is this identity to other? From a Swedish horizon this also mirrors identities a non-white, transgender and Palestinian – but also more? A complete human being?

Workshop with the Newcomers Youth group

Sahar Alkhateeb is also conducting a workshop The Parts of Our Bodies We are Told to Hide in the castle park with the Newcomers Youth group from RFSL Uppsala as part of the summer exhibition Resonating Bodies, which is on display between August 20th and September 11th.

About Sahar Alkhateeb

Sahar Alkhateeb holds an MFA degree from Konstfack in Stockholm and a BA in Contemporary Art from the International Academy of Art in Ramallah / Palestine and has previously exhibited at Malmö Art Museum, Växjö Art Gallery, Göteborgs Litteraturhuset and Konstnärshuset.

في حضرة الغياب

هذه المحتويات ... و تضيق بنا؟

وبسرعة تكبر على وقع الكلمات الكبيرة، وعلى الحافة بين
عالم ينهار خلفك، وعالم لم يتشكل بعد أمامك ... عالم
مرميّ كحجر طائش في لعبة أقدار. تسأل نفسك : من
أنا؟ ولا تعرف كيف تعرِّف نفسك. ما زلتَ صغيراََ على
سؤال يحيِّر الفلاسفة. لكن سؤال الهوية الثقيل قد أقعد
.الفراشة عن الطيران

From Mahmoud Darwish’s prose poem collection Fi hadrat al-ghiyab (In the presence of absence).