Virtual Palestine

Videos and images from an existing reality

Opening Reception:

Friday, November 18, 6-8 p.m.

image by Rajie Cook, still from film “Meditation”


Gallery Al-Quds presents a new form of “virtual reality”—the reality of Palestine interpreted by artists in short and long-form videos and slide shows.  Several Gaza artists have contributed films and images difficult for them to share outside its borders.  Other artists created mini documentaries, metaphysical musings, hopeful fictions and painterly images of a reality that sometimes only they can see.

Share in this virtual reality by watching the video tour of the exhibit and reading the statements by the artists below.


Artist Statements 

Malak MattarA Painter in Gaza


Malak Mattar is a talented 16 year old girl in Gaza, whose life revolves around her paintings.  She is a prolific artist who tries to share her work with the world via Facebook.  With only a few hours of electricity available to her, she uses every minute to reflect on her life and the world around her in her paintings. Her sensitivity extends to all the world’s suffering and joys. Look for her portrait of the little Aleppo boy whose picture was broadcast around the world.  Her work has many admirers in Palestine and abroad, who see her work online, and she has received invitations to show her work, but cannot get visas to leave Gaza.

Hani HouraniFrom Over the Wall: The Old Town of Jerusalem


Photographer and painter Hani Hourani captures the urban essence of Jerusalem in his densely worked images. These are   paintings on canvas in acrylic and mixed media. Long range perspectives provide the viewer with a bird’s eye view of the city as historical repository of people’s hopes and dreams, but also as a dynamic setting for the cultural clash of present day political forces.  The frangibility of the urban fabric reflects the pressure and well as the beauty of this highly charged city.

Manal DeebHeart/Homeless


Are you there?



—You mean there?

—I mean do you see the sea?

—I see sand.

—But do you see the sea?

—I see time waiting for us.

—You mean you see every ruin in us?

—I see every shore in us.

—So we are lost.

—No, just drawing what shapes us.

—Like the sea does.

—Like the sea has.

—I’ll wait for you by the shore?

—You mean by our longing.

—I mean I don’t know where we are anymore.

—Yes, history moves in haste.

—Maybe, but it’s memorized our shape.

Poem by Nathalie Handal

Susanne KesslerJerusalem


Susanne Kessler traces the lines of the city map of Jerusalem with pencil or wire, again and again, like a mantra or a prayer. Jerusalem is a virtual city, a place where three monotheistic religions come together, and break apart, a place where conflicts have influence on the world. The geography of Jerusalem speaks to transparency, continuity, difference and conflict; an historical reality subsumed by the virtual reality of struggle for justice and rights.

Rajie CookMeditation


This 3 minute video “meditation” is designed to disturb.  It is a graphic call to remember the continuing destruction of historic Palestine through Zionist settler colonial strategies that have been implemented for over one hundred years with the full knowledge and support of the western powers and their allies, plus a number of Arab governments as willing accomplices. The destruction of Palestine is now, every day, every hour. As you watch and reflect on the bloody stain that remains, we hope you will be moved beyond anger and despair to active resistance, for what is taking place right now in historic Palestine.

Najib Joe HakimI Come From There


I Come from There and Memories are What I Have

On an afternoon hike through a redwood forest, I rested by a stream to watch the glittering reflections and listen to the undisturbed rush of water. My thoughts turned to memories of my father – the way salmon swim back upstream to its source.

“I used to ride my bicycle in Jaffa,” he’d often tell us. And in such a simple statement, he handed us our Palestinian heritage.

This short video is a simple reflection on his journey from the shores of Jaffa, Palestine across the seas to America.

(Title from a poem by Mahmoud Darwish).

Samirah AlkassimWhat is Natural Contains Variety


From sunsets to olive harvests, we look at Palestine in Jordan. This video was made as an installation for a gallery exhibit entitled “Investigating Nature” at a gallery in Cairo in 2006.  My piece was an investigation of the landscape in Jordan, which for me, as a Palestinian-Jordanian-American, is defined not just by its natural beauty but by its proximity to Palestine.  I also made this video as a detour from a longer as yet unfinished documentary project where I examine the productions of Palestinian artists living in Jordan – seeing in their work reflections on home, identity, and trauma. For this detour, I filmed sunsets, landscapes, and the journey on the road from Amman to the village of Rumtha in the north of Jordan where my family has an olive farm and where the villagers harvest olives every fall, not so far away from but in relative peace compared to their relatives living kilometers away in Palestine.

Andrew CourtneyA Palestinian Woman


This documentary short film brings the viewer close to the conditions isolating Palestinians within their communities. It is filmed next to the separation barrier that Israel continues to build in the occupied Palestinian territories.Terry Boulatta, mother, teacher and community activist, shows how the 27 foot high wall surrounds her neighborhood in East Jerusalem, dividing it from the adjacent community of Abu Dis, severing the historical bonds of the two communities. The wall contributes to the suffocation of life, the latest reality for Palestinians under occupation.Terry takes us on a half hour drive to get from one side of the wall to the other, a trip that previously took only four minutes. We learn of the terminals and checkpoints through which Palestinians must pass to travel within their own territory.Terry speaks of the illegal settlements and land confiscations as elements of apartheid, making the settlers “the masters of the land.

Andrew Ellis Johnson and Susanne SlavickQuench


QUENCH presents a sea and a wall—elements that loom large in our fears and desires. Partitioned zones of waves speak of division, especially among Israelis and Palestinians. Their ebb and flow intermittently fade to reveal fragments of graffiti on a concrete barrier that limits countless possibilities. Their nearly symmetrical movements resemble kinetic Rorschach inkblots, used in psychological testing to determine personality characteristics or emotional function or dysfunction. QUENCH becomes a screen that frames but does not contain resentment over curtailed autonomy and agency.  It also creates and denies desire, failing to quench the thirst for sustenance, purpose, identity and justice.

Mohammed MusallamTruce Chick


This represents a true story that happened to me in the recent Gaza war in 2014.

When the Israeli army announced a truce for several hours, I went with my mother to check our house and bring some things, and put food for the chickens in our barn in front of the house.  For weeks my children had been looking out for newborn chicks. Now back in our house for these few moments, suddenly we found a new chick. We felt fear for the life of the chick in the war, so we took it with us to an apartment in the center of Gaza, a temporary escape from the war for us and the chick. In this war as in every war.

This film embodies the true story of us as Palestinians.  We love life and stick to the simplest things.

Amr MounibWe Speak of Human Rights


Humans leave words and images on the walls that enclose them, deny them, occupy and oppress them.  Images that speak of resistance, and freedom, and human rights.  Sometimes these images are obliterated by the oppressors, sometimes by the walls coming down.  Photographers can capture this ephemeral graffiti, preserving its message for those who come after.

Helen Zughaib and Amy JosephWish



The small, but universal,

gesture of throwing a coin into a fountain,

hoping your wish will come true.

Belal KhaledGaza Graffiti


Artist and photographer Belal Khaled is the founder of Gaza Graffiti.

He learned Arabic calligraphy in the seventh grade and painted Quranic verses on the walls of his family home. Now using his art as a form of resistance,  his graffiti appears all over Gaza, on destroyed buildings, on the streets, on cars, and even in the smoke of Israeli bombs. His work has been seen around the world, and he now travels to make graffiti art in many other countries. He recently created a mural in Harare that is the first Arabic calligraphy in the State of Zimbabwe.



Exhibition continues November 18—December 16, 2016