The Human Condition in our Present Time
Shadi Habib Allah, born in 1977 and based in East Jerusalem, has a mixed media practice that encompasses oil painting, installation and video. In describing his recent artistic concerns he says;
“ In the last two years my work has dealt with issues related to the human condition in our present time and plays on themes of death, fear and weakness”
Shadi has investigated these themes in works such as Untitled 2004, an installation that was realised at the Qattan Foundation in Ramallah. In this work the artist transformed a room into a morgue like space filling it with blue light and lowering the room temperature. A grid of plaster cast rubbish bin lids on one wall resembled a body storage facility and two cartoon-like mouse figures standing on a mountain at the far end of the room introduced an element of the surreal and fantastical. The mice refer to laboratory experiments and the tension and contradiction that arises in human’s exploitation of life in order to over come death.
There is not a moralistic aspect to Shadi’s concerns but rather a fascination with what he refers to as the ‘trigger points’ in human relations. Being Palestinian and having been raised in a region with a history of conflict he says has created an interest in what forces or ‘triggers’ create psychological shifts in the human mind, ‘how the beast becomes a victim or vice versa’ as he puts it and how the two ends of this spectrum are intrinsically linked.
In recent animation work Shadi plays with these themes in a series of short narratives on loop. The viewer is presented with a bird’s eye perspective of a small landscape wherein objects and figures are formed from simple repetitive shapes and lines in black ink. The narratives seem to follow a tribe acting out a series of basic human societal scenarios hunting and dancing.
The cartoon-like style of the animation gives the series a humorous note but there is a tension that builds with each narrative as we watch the tribe armed with spears chase down and kill a dear with dogged determination and a seemingly light hearted scene of the tribe dancing feels more like a rallying war dance. With each loop repetition the tension increases with the added knowledge of the inevitable outcome of each narrative.
Many of Shadi’s psychological ‘triggers’ are played out here with fear, death but also what he describes as the ‘interplay of power and domination’. There is the dominance displayed by the hunters over their prey while the precariously fragile power distribution in within tribal societies presents a looming threat in the human dynamics. The viewer is also put into a position of power as the view we are given suggests we are peering down into a tiny world. On discussing this Shadi says ‘the animation presents itself in a kind of microscopic world that invites you to watch as a god or as a child’.
These narratives take on a greater socio -political significance if read as metaphors for the end products of these psychological ‘triggers’ among which Shadi includes the culture, habitat and the atmosphere we find ourselves in. He attempts encapsulate these complex issues into something more essential and universal, describing them as,
‘simulated stories that are derived from a context of the human condition …available as a story of a world or culture in the palm of everyone’s hand.’
Shadi was selected for the ArtSchool Palestine and Gasworks Artist in Residency Programme for which he has recently spent three months in London producing work in film and animation.
Shadi was awarded a B.A. from The Art Academy of Bezalel in Jerusalem and has participated in group shows in Italy and Israel. He has had solo shows in Ramallah, Palestine and received the Hassan Hourani Award for Young Artists at the Al Qattan Foundation in 2004. In 2005 Shadi participated on the Artist in Residency Programme at Cittadelarte, Fonozione Pistolleto, Italy.
Shadi Habib was born in Jerusalem in 1977. After undertaking courses in Fine Arts at the University of Haifa in 1996/97 he undertook courses in English the following year. Then from 1999 to 2003 he did his Bachelor of Fine Arts at The Art Academy of Bezalel in Jerusalem.
From 2003 to 2004 he worked on three projects in villages in the West Bank on integrating solid wastes as sculptural elements in public spaces, through the UNDP and the Palestenian Culturel Center. And on illustration for kids’ stories and undertook courses in animation for children at the Willy Brundt Center.
In 2004/05 he was offered a residency at Cittadelarte, Fondazione Pistolleto, Biella, Italy followed by a residency opportunity at Gasworks studios, London, United Kingdom in 2005/06.
Exhibition / Installation,
2005 - 2006: Artist in residency program at Gasworks studios, London, United Kingdom
2004– 2005: Artist in residency program at Cittadelarte, Fondazione Pistolleto, Biella, Italy. Progam teaching children how to work with materials
Exhibition / Installation,
2006 - Animation Video through Al-Qattan Foundation, Ramallah, Palestine
2005 - Paintings exhibition at the Nashashibi Center, Jerusalem, Israel
2004 - Untitled, installation at the Hajaj Gallery, Ramallah, Palestine
Exhibition / Installation,
2006: group exhibition at Al-housh gallery, Jerusalem
2005 - Cittadelarte in Biella, Italy
2003 -Atlit prison, Israel
Graduation exhibition at Bezalel Academy
2006 - (2nd Prize) The Hassan Hourani Award for young artists, Al-Qattan Foundation, Ramallah, Palestine
2004 - (2nd prize)The Hassan Hourani Award for young artists, Al-Qattan Foundation, Ramallah, Palestine
This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the culturebase.net partner institutions.
(09 February 07 - 09 February 15)