In the Labyrinths of Exhibition Histories: The International Art Exhibition in Solidarity with Palestine

Talk by Kristine Khouri & Rasha Salti
Friday February 28; 8pm



The International Art Exhibition in Solidarity with Palestine was inaugurated on March 21st, 1978, in Beirut and opened to the public until April 5th of that year. Organized by the Unified Information Office of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the show included some 194 works by 197 international artists from approximately 29 countries. The idea was to establish a museum of international modern and contemporary art in solidarity with Palestine, in exile, until the liberation of the country. In comparison to biennials organized by neighboring Arab states, the International Art Exhibition in Solidarity with Palestine was remarkable in scale, scope, and international outreach. The fact that it took place in Beirut, three years after the civil war had erupted, when the city was splitting between into its eastern and western flanks, makes it furthermore awe-inspiring. For the Palestinians, it represented a stupendous feat, the recognition of world-acclaimed artists of the righteousness of their revolution. It also marks a crystallization of the mobilization of the solidarity network of the international revolutionary left.

During the research around the genesis and realization of the exhibition, as well as the projected museum, stories of other exhibitions have surfaced, crossing paths in the foreground and back scenes, drawing a complex unwritten cartography of how exhibitions draw another history of art.


Rasha Salti is a researcher, writer, curator and film programmer. She is a co-founder with Kristine Khouri of the History of Arab Modernities in the Visual Arts Study Group, a research platform focused around the social history of art in the Arab world. Their current project is focused around the history of “The International Art Exhibition in Solidarity with Palestine” which took place in Beirut in 1978. 
 
Kristine Khouri is a researcher, writer and photographer based in Beirut. She is a co-founder with Rasha Salti of the History of Arab Modernities in the Visual Arts Study Group, a research platform focused around the social history of art in the Arab world. Their current project is focused around the history of “The International Art Exhibition in Solidarity with Palestine” which took place in Beirut in 1978. She is working independently on the history of the Sultan Gallery, Kuwait as part of an exploration of Pan-Arab sites and events of the 1970s.