Portraits of Denial & Desire

1 November 2013
The Palestine Center
Washington, DC

“Portraits of Denial & Desire”


John Halaka
Visual Artist / Professor of Visual Art

Artist John Halaka presents his multi-disciplinary project, Portraits of Denial & Desire, that preserves and presents the stories of indigenous Palestinians who were displaced from their homeland in an ongoing cultural genocide that began 65 years ago. Each of the four components of the project highlight complex and compelling individuals whose personal stories address massive and ongoing human rights violations, cycles of violent political manipulations, patterns of self-defeating strategies, as well as inspiring narratives of resilience and resistance. Those experiences, along with many others, represent the dynamic tensions between the oppressive political denial and the liberating personal desires that have defined the lives of Palestinian refugees since their expulsion. The recorded narratives, photographs, drawings and film highlight seldom-heard stories from three generations of Palestinian refugees and uncover parts of their experiences in the aftermath of displacement.

John Halaka, is a Visual Artist, Documentary Filmmaker and Professor of Visual Arts at the University of San Diego, where he has taught since 1991. As an activist artist, Halaka’s creative work serves as a vehicle for meditation on personal, cultural and political concerns. His drawings, paintings and documentary film projects are informed by the Palestinian experiences of displacement and the persistent desire of the refugees to reclaim their homes and homeland. “Through my work, I attempt to initiate a dialogue with the viewer that could hopefully instigate transformation, one person at a time.”

Halaka has exhibited his artwork and screened his films regionally, nationally and internationally. His drawings from the series Landscapes of Desire are currently featured in a solo exhibition at the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn Michigan, through January 2014, click here to view.

He is the recipient of a Fulbright Research Fellowship in 2011-2012 to develop the second phase of the project Portraits of Denial & Desire, in Lebanon.