Making Visible the Tragedy of War & its Aftermath

A post by Emily Kovacs, Marketing | Communications Volunteer

With Visible, Rehab Nazzal invites visitors to experience the destructive conflict in Palestine from within. The immersive nature of the installation’s web-sourced images, sound, and video allows visitors to become participants in the aftermath of war rather than viewers. We invite you to let this exhibition inspire you to question how much your understanding of war and its aftermath is shaped by the medium through which you received these events.

The AGM recently interviewed the artist about her exhibition:

AGM: You use material “culled from the web” in Visible. How important do you think the Internet is for allowing discussions about topics like war and its aftermath to flourish?

RN: The public has no access to information about the ongoing colonial military activities and war from above (Drone Warfare). The mainstream media is no longer a credible and authentic source of information, particularly when it comes to state’s involvement in war and violations of human rights. Alternative electronic sources including activists’ blogs, electronic journals, social media, and information leaked from authoritative sources, become more reliable than mainstream media. The Internet is a great source of information.

I think we have never been surrounded by still and moving images as we are in the last decade. Making and circulating images are in the reach of every person with a mobile phone. Interpretation, contextualizing and make sense of existing and found images on the internet is very important for artists who seek to engage the public in significant issues.

AGM: How has your background as a Palestinian-born artist who currently lives in Canada influenced your work?

RN: My experience growing up under Israel’s military occupation has a great influence on my work and my life. The occupation is not a memory that one has to forget or leave behind; rather, it is an ongoing act of military aggression. If anything has changed since I left home, it is how greater the scale and how severe is the extent of Israel’s colonialism become; more suffering, destruction, segregation, theft of land, imprisonment, house demolishing, assassination. Military power, which my work addresses, is behind all that aggression.

AGM: When creating the works featured in Visible, was anything done with the specific intention of making conditions in Palestine feel immediate and relevant to Canadian audiences, an audience that often feels far and removed from global strife?

RN: The latest Israeli Assault, I believe, was the most covered by media sources around the world.  Israel’s military brutality against the ghettoized and occupied Palestinian population became more visible to the global community including Canadians. This was evident by the solidarity movments and by the massive protests that took to the streets everywhere.  

I observed the assault on Gaza (the third in five years)) day-by-day. I observed and saved images of death, suffering, destruction, desperateness of a population suffering Israel’s siege and occupation. I have never seen this number of images of parents holding and burying their children’s dead bodies. It seemed unending suffering since 1940s, one tragedy after the other, with no space for healing.  W

What struck me about the numerous images of Gaza’s destruction was the absence of colors.  Life and its colors have been drained by one of the most destructive military power we have ever encountered. That is the idea behind one of the works in the exhibition, Frames from Gaza; the images of destruction are punctuated with colored frames that attest to survival and resilience.

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Rehab Nazzal: Visible is on view at the AGM, along with Dipna Horra: Dhunia: Octet and Rena Sava: Urban Abstraction, until January 1. For more information, see artgalleryofmississauga.com/exhibitions.html

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