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The International Exhibition in Solidarity with Palestine
Kristine Khouri and Rasha Salti (2011 Grant Recipient)

Claude Lazar, International Art Exhibition in Solidarity with Palestine, Beirut Arab University, 1978. Installation shot.

2011 Grant Recipient Kristine Khouri and RashaSalti The International Exhibition in Solidarity with Palestine The International Art Exhibition in Solidarity with Palestine was inaugurated on March 21st, 1978, in Beirut and open to the public until April 5th of that year. In addition, a two-month long workshop for local emerging artists was organized alongside it with some of the international artists invited to Beirut. Organized by the Unified Information Office of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the show included approximately 200 works by 197 international artists from approximately 29 countries. The initiative was inspired from the Salvador Allende Resistance Museum in Exile, undertaken by Chilean artists in Paris in 1973 after the Pinochet coup. The works were donated with the aim of constituting a seed collection for a museum of international modern art in solidarity with Palestine, in exile.

In comparison with large-scale exhibitions and 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, in the midst of the civil war, makes it furthermore hard to imagine how it could have been executed. For 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. The works were housed in a building used by the PLO, in 1982, during the Israeli invasion of Beirut, it was bombed to rubble. The institutional archival traces of the exhibition were destroyed.

The research project will reconstitute the story of the exhibition, pieced from unearthing documents from archives of artists and participants as well as recorded testimony. It seeks to explore the network of solidarity the international, anti-imperialist left, as well as articulations of political engagements in the 1960s and 1970s. The project will ultimately take form as a staging of the exhibition in documents and other materials, as well as a publication that will map and reflect critically on the intricacies of the investigation and the process of research.