Shadi Alzaqzouq: Resisting Israeli occupation through 'devolution'
Palestinian artists were the focus of a recent exhibition in Paris, with art work addressing ideas such as lost land, occupation and landlessness.
The works of four Palestinian artists were selected by the Arab World Institute including those by Shadi Alzaqzouq, a Gazan artist who made headlines last year after staging a protest at Banksy's "Dismaland" against Israeli war crimes in his besieged home territory.
Zaqzouq displayed two new works of art entitled Evolution Underground at Palestine at the IMA, which dealt again with these issues. These, and other pieces by Palestinian artists, will be displayed at the gallery until 20th March.
Now based in Paris, one of Zaqzouq's pieces at the exhibition dominates the wall - an oil painting depicting Jerusalem's Dome of the Rock. The scene is set with Zaqzouq's family and friends crawling out of the ground onto the holy site's base, which has seen clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces recently.
"I got the idea for the painting while I was at the zoo with my family. We saw a mole digging around in its enclosure and I was really taken aback. It occurred to me that me and the mole had a lot in common," Zaqzouq told The New Arab.
He said the scene brought to him ideas about freedom of travel, visas and borders. The Palestinian artist understands these concepts better than most people, having been born in the Libyan city of Benghazi, living in Gaza and Egypt, and finally settling in France in 2007.
|"Evolution Underground" - Shadi Alzaqzouq [Facebook]|
"I wondered if his [the mole's] method of transport was a genetic adaption to keep himself safe from humans or a case of devolution. In either case, it's a very beneficial change," he added.
The 35-year-old has been living in exile for almost ten years. During this time he has been unable to visit his family in Gaza due to Israeli restrictions, even though he is now a French citizen.
Zaqzouq's second work, which takes central position in his exhibition room, is an installation of a man tunnelling into the ground surrounded by a pile of earth.
"I spent my whole life dreaming of returning to Jaffa. This is an imaginary hole that leads to the parts of Palestine that I am barred from going to because of the occupation," Zaqzouq said.
"Israel has left us with no other option but to de-evolve into animals for us to get our freedom. Palestinians will have to evolve into something to be able to resist, peacefully or aggressively, such a racist and oppressive occupation."