Bisan Abu-Eisheh in the Foyle Special Collections Library and Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives
With the support of Culture + Conflict, Bisan Abu-Eisheh was the 2017 artist in residence in the Foyle Special Collections Library and Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives, using archival material as a tool to investigate history and politics relating to Palestine.
Artist Bisan Abu-Eisheh with his work, photograph: Bisan Abu-Eisheh
The Foyle Special Collections Library and the Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives at King’s are jointly hosting an artist in residence, Bisan Abu-Eisheh, from January 2017 to April 2017. The residency is supported by Culture + Conflict, a not-for-profit agency focusing on art produced in, or in response to, conflict and post-conflict situations across the world.
The Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives was founded in 1964 and covers a range of military history topics from the late 19th century onwards. The archive holds many types of material: diaries, correspondence, working papers and files, texts of lectures, memoranda, unpublished memoirs, audio and video tapes of events and recollections, transcripts of interviews, photographs, maps and plans, and press cuttings. The Foyle Special Collections Library houses some 170,000 printed works, as well as maps, slides, sound recordings and manuscript material. Its collections, built up over centuries by purchase, gift and bequest, contain many unique items and cover all subject areas.
A book that was published by the British Government featuring the Palestine Pavilion at the British Empire Exhibition held at Wembley Park in1924, Photograph: Bisan Abu-Eisheh
Bisan often draws on information gathered through conversations and oral testimonies, archives and collected objects as a tool to investigate history and politics. He describes his aesthetic as ‘loaded with elements, facts and topics which lead the viewer into a world that focuses on issues including national identity, mobility, migration and injustice’.
By working with and researching military archive material during his residency, Bisan aims to bring new insights and perspectives to aspects of the material in the collections at King’s, especially in relation to the history of war, conflict and colonialism. His research focuses on British colonial history in Palestine, the foundation of Israel, and how these have impacted on Palestinian identity. In some of his previous work, archives have played an integral part in the overall research. For example, when working on Playing House 2008-2011, he benefited from using an archive of an organisation in Jerusalem called Al-Maqdese. Their archive holds statistical data about housing demolitions in Jerusalem and Bisan used this data to create a visual installation (below).
Playing House at Rennes Biennial 2012, courtesy of Bisan Abu Eisheh and Teixeira de Freitas art collection, Photograph: Les Prairies_Rennes
Regarding the residency, Bisan has commented on his blog that 'this is the first time that I will be working in the context of a colonial military archive. I don’t know what to expect yet but my attempt is to look at materials connected to Palestine during the British Mandate and from there I will try to narrow my focus towards a visual outcome.'
For more information and updates about the residency, please see Bisan’s blog.
On Thursday 2 March 2017, Bisan was in conversation alongside Mariam Ghani with Dr Pablo de Orellana, Teaching Fellow in the Department of War Studies:
Whose identity? Whose history? Artists exploring personal and national history through the archives of others.
About the artist
Born in Jerusalem in 1985, Bisan Abu-Eisheh is a Palestinian artist living and working between Jerusalem and Glasgow. He obtained his BA at the International Academy of Art Palestine and from 2012–14 studied for an MA in Fine Art at Central Saint Martins.
Selected group exhibitions include Arrivals and Departures, Ancona, Italy (2012), The Jerusalem Show on/off Language (2011), Untitled, The 12th Istanbul Biennial (2011), Belongings, Vita Havet Konstfack, Stockholm, Sweden (2011), World Social Forum Photo Exhibition, Jerusalem (2010), and SIN festival, Al-Qattan foundation, Ramallah (2009), among many others.
He has performed in several art events including: Prayers by Dora Garcia, The Jerusalem Show, Al-Ma'mal foundation, Jerusalem (2009) and Hello Jerusalem by Hello Earth Danish group, the Palestinian National Theatre, Jerusalem (2009).