Cry, the beloved country
Exhibition Dates: 24th September – 17th October 2020
Artist: Gil Mualem-Doron
“Cry, the beloved country” is a heart-wrenching series of room installations, documenting the links between Great Britain, Apartheid South Africa, Israel and Palestine. A journey into “the heart of darkness”, the exhibition is three years in the making and showcases room installations, films and performances offering a unique perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and its wider connections to the legacies of colonialism and racism.
Beginning with a picture-perfect view of Tel Aviv beach on a sunny day, visitors soon discover a darker reality hiding just beneath the surface in the film installation “Obscured”. On the way down from the gallery’s ground floor to the basement, the debris of Victorian roof tiles decorated with Palestinian embroidery motifs and injected with interactive digital elements. The work maks the connection between the British practice of home demolitions in Mandatory Palestine and current Israeli practices in the Occupied Territories.
Surrounding this, in the project “Present Absentees” the visitors come face to face with the faces of Palestinian internal refugees living in Israel as second class citizens. The prize-winning project, based on Mualem-Doron’s PhD research, shows how the colonial and Judeo-Christian imagery of Palestine as an empty wilderness in the 19th century led has lasting repercussions.
Hidden in the gallery basement floor is a figure dressed in what appears to be a KKK uniform. Closer inspection reveals that the cloth is made from a Jewish prayer shawl, in fact, given to the artist’s Bar Mitzva ceremony. Projected on the wall is a cacophony of racists quotes by Winston Churchill, Adolf Hitler, Cecil Rhodes, the KKK’s Grand Wizard Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and others. While the names of these figures are omitted together with the reference to Jewish / Arab / Black - it is almost impossible to distinguish who said what. The work was created after a Palestinian family was murdered by young Jewish settlers in 2015. Never exhibited before, it was used in performances in London and Tel Aviv, where the artist narrowly avoided arrest by running away when the police were called.
Dr Gil Mualem-Doron (1970) is an Arab-Jewish artist, born and based in the UK. Having lived half his life in Israel, he moved permanently to the UK in 2016 for personal and political reasons.
Mualem-Doron’s work is research-based, and politically and socially engaged. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a major theme of his work, so are other issues of identity, legacies of colonialism, social and racial justice, urban histories and radical art practices. He works in various media, chiefly photography, installations and social practices. Whilst being self-taught and highly critical of the art establishment, his work has been supported generously by Art Council England and other charities and has been shown at places such as the Turner Contemporary, Tate Modern/Tate Exchange, The People History Museum (Manchester), the Jewish Museum, and Rich Mix.