AM Qattan Foundation Opens West Bank Cultural Center
By Pamela Wong
Amid ongoing political tensions between Israel and Palestine, which escalated to violent clashes in May when Israeli Defence Forces opened fire on Palestinians protesting the controversial relocation of the United States embassy to Jerusalem, the AM Qattan Foundation opened its new cultural center in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank, on June 28.
Designed by Spanish firm Donaire Arquitectos, the USD 21-million building houses art studios, exhibition spaces, classrooms, a library, small theatre, restaurant, and offices across 7,730 square meters, and will serve as the site for a new cultural public program, as well as the Foundation’s headquarters.
According to the Foundation’s chairman, Omar al-Qattan, this project was the dying wish of his father, the late Palestinian businessman and philanthropist Abdel Mohsin al-Qattan, who established the Foundation in London in 1993.
Originally slated to open in 2016, the project experienced numerous delays due to underestimated costs, difficulties transporting building materials across the heavily controlled Israeli border, and a lack of skilled labor in the area.
Speaking on the challenges of launching this new space in a period of rising tensions and political instability, the current chairman stated: “The AM Qattan Foundation continues to believe that only a long-term, sustainable investment in individual freedom, education and creativity, especially among children, young creators and teachers, can enable a society to resist oppression and overcome its tragedies.”
The inaugural exhibition at the center, titled “Subcontracted Nations,” features over 60 artists and collectives, including Palestinian multimedia artist Khaled Jarrar, British-Palestinian interdisciplinary artist Larissa Sansour, and British-Bangladeshi artist and filmmaker Naeem Mohaiemen. Curated by the Foundation’s director of public programs, Yazid Anani, the exhibition interrogates the concept of the nation and the ways in which the subcontracting of public services has transformed the role of the state.
"Subcontracted Nations" will run until September 29, 2018.
Pamela Wong is an editorial intern of ArtAsiaPacific.
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