« I think that all art work is political », by Fahed Halabi

Born on the Golan Heights – “Israel” my work reflects the socio-political context in which I was born as an Arab-Syrian artist. As a person who has lived his whole life between two worlds, the question of identity is the principal question with which I deal. My personal reality confronts daily with dilemmas of identity. On one hand the Arab, Eastern culture in which I was born and grew up and on the other, the western culture to which I was exposed in the last years.

Living on this boarder, is a tiring and exhausting position, however on the other hand and at the same time, it is a challenging and inquisitive situation which often exposes me to new questions and challenges.

Through dealing with this question of identity I try to examine the dimensions of the conflict between these two cultures. This conflict is expressed in various forms: political, economical and social.
On the social level I deal with the sexual and gendered dimension, in the relation between the cultures. This sexual dimension could reflect, in a sensitive and honest way, the small, hidden and important cultural nuance existing all at the same time.

Art for me is not a game, it is part of my reality and my life, as it reflects reality in a sophisticated, sensitive and esthetic way. However talent is the degree of the ability to express what occupies my thoughts, feelings and mind. In my work I often apply either black humor or stinging irony which is amusing and sad at the same time.

My principal medium is painting and video art however in my work I am loyal to neither one style nor one technique; therefore I always try to discover other styles, techniques and mediums. Indeed there is always either a hidden or a manifested connecting line between my works. The crossing between the different mediums and techniques resembles my own crossing between the various physical worlds in which I live. There is always a position of interrogation and search, a position of uncertainty.

Furthermore, I am concerned by other issues related to questions of identity- such as the issue of religion and the situation of women within the religion. Question related to political, national and ethnical background, behavioral patterns and all the cultural characteristics and codes by which every human group is defined, either on an individual level or in the relation between the group and the other.

Main Challenges in my Career:
Being an Arab artist who was born into a religious Druz family in Magdal Shams on the Golan Heights, occupied by Israel for over 44 years, is the first and central challenge. In many ways it is a small, enclosed and fanatic world constantly confronting me with concrete challenges in relation to the ‘bigger world’. My first exit from the village involved an ongoing adventure which continues taking place to this day. This adventure has a great influence on details of my life and further encloses me in the tiring, exhausting and severs conflict, even if interesting. This adventure represents the tension between the world which is “small, known and safe” thus the village and the big world which is open, wide and insecure. In my situation I always have to pay a double price to be an artist. It is expressed in all my life aspects including the social, political and economical ones. Through my first move from the village to Tel Aviv I discovered, from all its aspects, a vaster yet complex world. Through my second move to Europe, the challenges became even greater and confronted me with larger difficulties. Here in Europe I am expected to start my career all over again.

Fahed Halabi

You may download the Artist Portfolio (2011) of Fahed Halabi and discover more about his art and thoughts.
For more information, please visit the blog of Fahed Halabi.


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