And Therefore A Philistine

Basma Alsharif

Salt Galata

February 11 – April 26, 2020

Gorsel Image 1 Basma Alsharif’in <i>A Philistine</i> [Bir Filist] (2019) enstalasyonundan bir fotoğraf
Sanatçı ve Paris’teki Galerie Imane Farès’in izniyle
A photograph from Basma Alsharif’s installation A Philistine, 2019
Courtesy the artist and Galerie Imane Farès, Paris
A visual artist and a member of the Palestinian diaspora, Basma Alsharif’s practice inherently confronts the notion of home, both as a place of residence and origin. This “hereditary sitelessness” allows the artist to overcome the limitations of time and space, mirroring her national identity—fragmented as a result of shifting geopolitical conditions.

A nationwide forced displacement not only causes the redefinition of physical territories, but also isolates that country from the world historiography while excluding personal stories from the collective memory. Aiming to debilitate irreconcilable narrations that usually represent hegemony, And Therefore A Philistine reconstructs the past through a never-been told visual story. With an allusion to the multiple meanings of the word Philistine—an inhabitant of ancient Philistia and an uninformed/uncultured person— Alsharif’s exhibition contemplates a borderless land by unveiling her own subconscious. Presented across three floors of SALT Galata, And Therefore A Philistine includes a film and a selection of videos and installations, which actively extend beyond the actual Palestinian landscape.

Centered around a novella of the same title written by Alsharif, the 2019 installation A Philistine provides a public reading space for the story moving backwards in time. The book, inspired from travelogues and erotic writing, begins in present day Lebanon, proceeds to 1935 Palestine, and ends in New Kingdom Egypt from 16th-11th century BCE. To envision a fictious journey, it revives historical train routes that coincide with the Haifa-Beirut-Tripoli line and the Palestine Railways, both discontinued in the late 1940s.

The film Ouroboros (2017) is influenced by Nietzsche’s concept of “eternal return.” A parable on the infinite recurrence of destructive events that proposes renewal as the only way to move forward, the 77 minute-long-film is screened in SALT Research at scheduled times. Located on the first floor, the videos Deep Sleep (2014) and Home Movies Gaza (2013) reclaim the Gaza strip through an external eye or as a witness from the inside. Trompe l’Oeil (2016) is a mise-en-scène of Alsharif’s once living room in California. Along with three photographs from the collection of T. E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia)—which the artist used without an official permission from the Imperial War Museum in London—as well as 38 archival reproductions, the installation evokes the ghosts of a colonial past in a staged domestic environment.

And Therefore A Philistine is programmed by Farah Aksoy from SALT. Details of upcoming public programs in parallel to the exhibition will be announced at and SALT Online social media channels.

The installation A Philistine (2019) was commissioned by Mophradat as part of The Consortium Commissions, a project inaugurated in 2018.

About the artist
Born in Kuwait in 1983 and grew up in France and the United States, Basma Alsharif is currently based in Cairo. Her exhibitions include A Philistine (CCA: Center for Contemporary Art, Glasgow, 2019); Basma Alsharif (Museum of Contemporary Art, Toronto, 2019); The Gap Between Us (The Mosaics Room, London, 2018); Renée’s Room (The Modules at the Palais de Tokyo, Paris, 2015); Farther Than the Eye Can See (Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah, 2012). Alsharif’s works have been shown at the Aichi Triennale, Whitney Biennial, Sharjah Biennial, and Manifesta 8, as well as a number of international film festivals. Shortlisted for the Paulo Cunha e Silva Art Prize (2019) and the Abraaj Group Art Prize (2018), she was awarded a Fundaciόn Botín Visual Arts Grant (2009-2010), and received a Jury Prize at Sharjah Biennial 9 (2009).