Monday, July 3

Bauhaus in Jaffa, the exhibit and a waft of orientalism

"Bauhaus in Jaffa, Modern Architecture in an Ancient City" was opened last thursday at the Tel Aviv Bauhaus Center, 99 Dizengoff Street, Tel Aviv.

The gallery, located on the 2nd floor of the center, is open sunday - thursday between 10.00 - 19.30 and on friday between 10.00 - 14.30.
A catalogue in Hebrew and English accompanies the exhibition, which has been curated by architect Shmuel Yavin.
Bauhaus is part of modernism. The invitation to the opening and the graphics of the catalogue front page are in a semi "Arabic" script on an Arabesque background. Pure orientalism. I wonder why.
And that is as close as you will get to Arabic script in this exhibit.

The exhibition consists of photographs, old and new, architectural drawings and maps as well as a short video on the Rahim House.
The text material is in both Hebrew and English. No Arabic. Jaffa, especially the part of Jaffa related to in the exhibit is historically Arabic, then and today.
True, the written material does relate to this, but how can you possible hang an exhibit in this manner and not provide Arabic texts as well?
That by itself is a statement. Sometimes saying nothing says it all.

When i asked about it, one of the people from the Bauhaus center said "they hadn't thought about that and that "they" (Arabs, y i.) don't much come to exhibits in any case", the other representative mentioned that "they actually had thought about an Arabic translation, but it was too expensive".
There was money for English, but Arabic, nada כלום

The short movie (shown on a computer with not the greatest visual quality) about the Rahim House (currently the residence of the French ambassador, see picture) is partially in Arabic, but that is simply not enough. True, Fakhri Geday, the old Palestinian pharmacist who still rembers the time before 1948 and who is interviewed in the movie speaks in Arabic and so do family members of the Rahim family, who used to own the house..

The exhibit as such is rather educational in its approach and although the materials are interesting, there appears to be a mix-up in some of the details between the French hospital and the Dajani hospital. In some cases the Arabic street and neighborhood names are mentioned, not in other cases, almost as if Jaffa's Palestinian character, culture and narrative are of little consequence, of small importance.

Very sad, very symbolic.

Why would Jaffa's Palestinian population come to the exhibit, when there are no explanantions in Arabic? When the Palestinian narrative is mentioned as a side motive rather than a central thread?
Arabic happens to be one of Israel's 2 official languages, but that's only "officially" on paper.

Reality is a different story all together.

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