Exhibitions Stop – Enough – We Are Tired - Khalas – Bikaffi – Ta’ibna

Leena Nammari, RSA, SSA

15th January to 17th March 2024

Leena Nammari, a Palestinian artist living in Scotland for over 30 years, shows 18 large-scale public art posters, drawing attention to the current conflict between Israel and Gaza. The posters show Arabic words and their English translation. Leena explains:

‘The words on the posters are what all Palestinians have been saying, and not just since the most recent war on Gaza in October 2023, but for almost 100 years. The words have a loose translation in English, as Arabic has a complexity that cannot be described in one word. The imperfect calligraphy (learnt in school in the 1980’s) is like my own two-dimensional voice. It allows me to be a part of the scream, the cry of anger, of despair, of frustration. We all have an obligation to engage and bear witness to the world we inhabit, to what we see and what we hear. Simply, and with words, sometimes, that could be enough.’

This exhibition launches Sharing Not Hoarding’s public art programme for 2024. The exhibition runs for two months, with an artist’s talk scheduled for mid-February. Sited on hoardings in Dundee’s Waterfront Development, the exhibition asks us to stop and consider our common humanity, and the ways in which that humanity can be both supported or violated.

Leena says about the current work, and in particular the use of Arabic script: ‘It is very important to show the similarities and not just the differences between various cultures. It is our common humanity that transcends all issues. It can be difficult to hear voices of the other, especially from those of a different culture, but all injustices are the same, all inequality is the same, all prejudices come from the same source, lack of information, lack of education. Knowledge is the greatest power the powerless can own.’

The artist and curators hope that this exhibition will keep the Israel-Gaza conflict, and its wider context, in the forefront of our awareness. They also hope that the exhibition might act as a stimulus to action, however small.

Leena comments: ‘It is incumbent on those who can raise their voice to do so, with whatever means they have. Feeling helpless, incapable to changing the course of events live-streamed before our eyes, I could do one thing. I could start a conversation, trigger a human sized reaction, from those who may come across these words. Maybe, just maybe, our common humanity will spark a change, allowing Palestinians to be seen as equal, deserving respect, and worthy of their cause.’

As an example of Leena’s own support for the Palestinian cause, Leena chose not to accept her artist fee and preferred to have it redirected to UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East).

Leena says: ‘I have enough to live on. I have the privilege of being funded while doing a PhD. UNRWA has been the lifeline of many Palestinians since it was formed in 1952, with the sole purpose of serving the Palestinian refugees. It has not stopped working. It has been undermined, underfunded, defunded, attacked and decimated over the years. It provides health care, education, shelter, food and training for Palestinian refugees in historic Palestine and the various UNRWA camps in the surrounding countries. They are the best placed to provide emergency relief in these extraordinary times, with the logistical capabilities and on the ground staff.’

If you would also like to support the work of UNRWA you can do so here: donate.unrwa.org

Further updates about Leena’s talk and related events will be posted here in due course.