In the exhibition setting of the Merz Foundation in Turin, the contemporary master Khalil Rabah lays the foundations of a cultural revolution through his extraordinary project, the Palestinian Museum of Nature and Humanity. Curated with sensitivity and insight by Claudia Gioia, this exhibition represents a profound exploration of art, history and identity.
Khalil Rabah, born in Jerusalem in 1961, is a visionary artist who moves between artistic media, challenging the classic expectations of contemporary art. His work is a bold investigation, a journey through the territories of identity, memory and change. The exhibition in Turin offers a unique opportunity to immerse in a world of reflection and discovery with the Palestinian Museum of Nature and Humanity: an extraordinary, constantly evolving project, launched by the artist in 2003 and presented throughout the world, from Istanbul to London, from New York to Amsterdam. With this project Khalil challenges the power of official institutions in the construction of history and questions the traditional exhibition model of museums.
Through a collection of imaginary or real floor plans, moving images, photographs and small sculptures, the artist offers visitors the opportunity to explore history in a new and revolutionary way. In fact, the museum itself is a work in progress, an enigma, a symbol of how culture can contribute to rewriting history. The works on display are profound and significant. Acampamento Vila Nova Palestina (2017) cuts out human figures on the walls, leaving empty spaces that evoke the precariousness and exile of refugees around the world. In contrast, 50320 Names (2006-17) is a register of historic buildings in Palestinian villages whose owners were never officially registered, due to 19th-century land registry policies.
Rabah’s art offers an analogical comparison between conquered territories and hunting prey in Common Geographies (2018-21), with animal skins presented as hunting trophies. Recovered (2018) is instead a series of stacked shelves, waiting to be filled or emptied, and they are there to symbolize the fluidity and evolution of history. Khalil Rabah questions the expectations of the museum as an institution and its ability to weave relationships and meanings. The museum’s journey culminates in Act III: Molding (2012), a red neon that says the phrase “In this issue: Statement concerning the institutional history of the museum”, supported by a large, consultable archive. Rabah challenges the status quo, and uses his art to redefine history and culture.
His ability to range between different artistic media has allowed him to tackle complex themes such as identity and memory, bringing him to international exhibitions and to the collections in the most prestigious museums in the world. In this exhibition, in Turin, Khalil Rabah offers the public the opportunity to reconsider history and culture in a new and revolutionary way: it is an experience that challenges conventions and invites us to explore the challenges and opportunities that his work offers for a deeper understanding of the world that surrounds us surrounds.
Khalil Rabah. Palestinian Museum of Natural History and Humankind (PMNHH)
30/10/2023 – 28/01/2024
via Limone 24, Torino
Independent artist and curator. Founder of No Title Gallery in 2011. I observe, study, ask questions, take informations and live in contemporary art, a real stimulus for my research.