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EXHIBITION at YBCA, San Francisco: Room for Big Ideas: The Chasm Arena

Artists: Zeina Barakeh and Michal Gavish
Yerba Buena Center for the Art, Front Door Gallery - January 24 - April 6, 2014

701 Mission Street , San Francisco, CA 94103-3138 - 415.978.ARTS (2787) -- FREE Admission

Zeina Barakeh and Michal Gavish are Lebanese-Palestinian and Israeli, respectively. The two met in San Francisco and began conversations about Jaffa, where Zeina's family originated before the establishment of the Israeli State in 1948, and near where Michal grew up. They began exploring the possibilities of bringing together two personal yet political narratives about Jaffa, narratives that kept colliding because of the larger unresolved and ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Their work investigates two very personal, loaded, yet antagonistic stories of exile. Their work does not necessarily produce solutions, but is a closer examination into the process of conflict-resolution informed by their histories.

Zeina Barakeh and Michal Gavish: This exhibition juxtaposes works by Palestinian artist Zeina Barakeh and Israeli artist Michal Gavish, centering on conflict, reconciliation, and history. The Jaffa Mangoes video uncovers the story of the Barakeh family's ancestral home in Jaffa, near which Michal grew-up. The two artists focus on revealing the history of this house in relation to its current status through an amalgam of intertwined visuals made from real and imagined footages.

In 48 Ways of Breaking Down a Barrier, Gavish and Barakeh each invited participants to imagine a type of barrier and devise a method for eliminating it, drawing upon the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Each artist then produced 12 animations illustrating the first set of scenarios, to promote a dual effort for reconciliation. Visitors are invited to contribute additional scenarios for future plots.

In Hot Line, a multi-channel, site-specific sound installation, Gavish and Barakeh each compile recorded audio testimonies of people who have experienced hardship as a result of political conflict and war. Personal narratives contributed by participants within the artists' respective communities offer a snapshot at fragmented histories, and are unaltered by the two artists who worked in the role of archivists. These narratives relate to the Vietnam War; the Dirty War in Argentina; the Holocaust; and martial law in Poland to name a few.

Five Iranian artists participated in the audio part of this world-shaking project: Omid Fallahazad, Samira Hashemi, Pantea Karimi, Mahshid Modares, and Minoosh Zomorodinia.

Omid Fallahazad's story is his childhood memory of the house-burning riots against Bahai's in Shiraz during the Islamic Revolution of 1978-79.

Samira Hashemi, in part of her participation in this project, elaborates on her memories from the students' demonstration in 2002 in Isfahan.

Pantea Karimi reads from his father's translated letter during Iran-Iraq war. He was a chief army civil engineer and he was injured while fixing a canal wall.

Mahshid Modares reviews her perpetual memories from Iran-Iraq war (1980-88) step by step from age ten to eighteenth, and the impact of war trauma on civilians.

Minoosh Zomorodinia's part is also her childhood reminiscences form Iran-Iraq war and the bombardment of Tehran. She focuses on how exposure to the war affected her emotionally.

Artists from left to right: Minoosh Zomorodinia, Samira Hashemi, Zeina Barakeh, Michal Gavish, Mahshid Modares, and Pantea Karimi

Zeina Barakeh' Biography:

Zeina Barakeh (b. Beirut) is a San Francisco-based artist. Her work examines how people and spaces become polarized during binary divisions. Through animation, digital media, and archival installations, she interrogates constructions of identity, history, memory, and territory.

Selected solo and two-person exhibitions include Jaffa Mangoes: History, Memory, and Myth, Ictus Gallery, San Francisco; The Third-Half, Anspacher Galleries, The Public Theater, New York; Passages, Golden Thread's ReOrient Festival, Theater Artaud, San Francisco; Facettes, Espace SD, Beirut. Group exhibitions include Women Redrawing the World Stage, SOHO20 Chelsea Gallery, New York; The Fertile Crescent: Gender, Art, and Society, Bernstein Gallery, Princeton University; Proliferations, Off Space, San Francisco; Internal Exile: From Palestine to the U.S.A. to Mexico, SOMArts Bay Gallery, San Francisco. Upcoming: Residency at the Brodsky Center for Innovative Editions, Rutgers University, New Jersey.

Barakeh obtained an MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute where she currently serves as Director of Graduate Administration.

Michal Gavish's Biography:

Michal Gavish is an Israeli-born San Francisco based multi-media artist. Her paintings and video works examine personal histories, contemplating their place between fact and fiction. She received her MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. Her previous PhD in Physical Chemistry has lent its scientific research methods to her current art practice and has influenced her imagery by touching upon issues of perception. Her fictional narrative is inspired by her work as a stage designer.

Solo exhibitions: Presented Past, Hungarian Jewish Museum, Budapest; My Objectivity, Sandra Lee Gallery, San Francisco; My Objectivity, Zadik Gallery, Tel Aviv; Jaffa Mangoes: History, Memory and Myth, Ictus Gallery, San Francisco; Meine Sachlichkeit, Spinnerei, Leipzig; 2011 Featured Artist, National WCA; Conversations, artBO, Bogota. Group Exhibitions: The Future Imagined, Zero One Silicon Valley Biennale; Corner of Hatzionut Ave and Hagefen, Bet Hagefen, Haifa; By Mainly Unexpected Means, Meridian Gallery, San Francisco; Personally Political, Tachles, Berlin; Re Bound, Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, Sonoma; Proliferations, Off Space, San Francisco; Invisible Homes, SOMArts, San Francisco.

Gavish lectures extensively on art history and science. She has worked in artists' residencies, in Cooper Union, New York City; The Leipzig Art Programme and Multicultural Center, Budapest.


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