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21 May, 2011 at 12:00 am - 6 Aug, 2011 at 12:00 am

A photograph of an art exhibition at the New Art Exchange, there are tv's hung up on a wall casting a glow in a dimly lit room

Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme work collaboratively from their base in Ramallah, Palestine. They have performed together with Ramallah Underground and recently founded the sound and video performance collective Tashweesh. Recent exhibitions and projects include New Sound (NY LYD) Images Festival, 2011 (Copenhagen); the 6th Liverpool Biennial (Future Movement); 23es Instants Video CCF, 2010 (Marseille); Home Works V, Ashkal Alwan, 2010 (Beirut); the 3rd Jerusalem Show, Al Mammal Foundation, 2009 (Jerusalem); The Delfina Foundation, 2009 (London) and the 53rd Venice Biennale, Palestinian Pavilion, 2009 (Venice).

The Zone is the first solo exhibition by Ramallah-based audio-visual artists Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme in the UK. A new site-specific installation, it explores the unique social dynamics that have brought about the eruption of a consumerist culture into the Palestinian struggle, amidst an increasingly dystopian environment.

The Zone takes, as its starting point, what took place after the failure of the Palestinian resistance movement: the transformation of the PLO into an ‘authority’ and eventually a ‘security’ regime and with it the birth of new political discourses and desires largely centered on consumption. In these discourses, the fantasy of a pleasurable, prosperous existence, blind to the increasingly visible violence of the colonial situation, sharply contrasts with the brutal reality of the Palestinian social, political and urban landscapes. In one of the darkest moments in Palestinian lived history, a ‘dreamworld’ has emerged: a collective form of dysfunctional phantasmagoria that perpetually denies both the failures and disaster of Palestine’s current situation.

Abbas and Abou-Rahme have created an immersive environment for the visitor, who, upon entering the installation, is subjected to a disorientating, sensory experience. In the narrow corridors and ominous rooms of The Zone, the familiar feels strange. At any given time, The Zone concurrently navigates the dialectic of dream and catastrophe, desire and disaster, past and present, near and far. This ambivalence is rooted in Abbas and Abou-Rahme’s artistic language, bringing together sound, video and installation, often juxtaposing found footage, archival material and field recordings – a way of working that came out of the need to formally express the violent geographical and political fragmentation experienced in Palestine and the wider Arab world.

With support from The Delfina Foundation