A Philistine is a new exhibition centring around Basma alSharif’s novella of the same name, which reveals the story of a central character (nicknamed Loza) on a train journey moving backwards in time through history. It begins in present day Lebanon, travelling through 1935 Palestine and ending in New Kingdom Egypt (16th-11th century B.C.E). Re-inventing historical train routes that coincide with the Haifa-Beirut-Tripoli (HBT) line and Palestine Railways, the story suggests what such a journey would be like today. Borders are undone and the various inhabitants of Greater Syria and North Africa intertwine along a train journey that escapes the imminent future and asks questions of the past and present.
Ultimately hinting at the multiple meanings and geographical etymology of the word Philistine, the book weaves together travelogues and science fiction narratives in its first two chapters, as the ‘Philistine’ encounters mythical creatures and rituals, before climaxing in erotic writing with lush and vivid descriptions that pull her through a series of different rooms, moral questions and confusions.
Across the three gallery spaces A Philistine is expanded as a new series of monochrome negative prints, photographs and banners, a screening room of existing film works and a mise-en-scène reading space inviting the viewer to become part of the work. The book, as well as an accompanying sound work are presented in Vernacular Arabic and English, exploring the nuances of translation, and connections and tensions between the languages.
Born in 1983 in Kuwait of Palestinian origin, Basma was raised between France, the US, and the Gaza Strip. Her works explore movement, travel and transport – bringing together intimate and every day camera footage, artifice, theatre and staging techniques, and connecting with Palestinian history and geography.