April 8 – June 4, 2016: The James Gallery, The Graduate Center, CUNY – New York

Jerusalem-born artist Dor Guez focuses on the history of marginalized communities in the Middle East. Through installations that combine diverse practices in video and photography, Guez’s work asks how contemporary art can narrate unwritten histories and re-contextualize visual and written documents.

Guez founded the Christian Palestinian Archive (CPA) in 2009 after he discovered a suitcase under his grandparents’ bed filled with old photographs. At the James Gallery, Guez presents the story of his grandmother, Samira Monayer, through a series of videos and digitally manipulated archival materials the artist calls “scanograms.” This story begins with Samira’s childhood in Jaffa and expulsion in 1948 during the Palestinian exodus from land claimed by Israel (known as al-Nakba, “the catastrophe”). The narrative continues with her family’s dispersal to Lydd (Lod), Amman, Cyprus, Cairo, and London and, eventually, Samira’s life in Israeli society. Both Samira’s biography and Guez’s aesthetic strategies reveal important gaps between established histories of the Middle East and individual lives in the region.

Samira’s story is a point of departure for Guez’s artwork and the Christian Palestinian Archive. While his family’s photographs are the foundation of the archive, today the CPA exists as an independent entity containing thousands of digital images from Christian Palestinians across the world. An open call during this presentation in the James Gallery will add more stories to this growing archive.

Christian Palestinian Archive: A Project by Dor Guez is curated by Chelsea Haines, Presidential Research Fellow, The Center for the Humanities. Cosponsored by the Mediating the Archive Mellon Seminar in Public Engagement and Collaborative Research in the Humanities, The Middle East and Middle East American Center, and the PhD Program in Art History at The Graduate Center, CUNY, and supported in part by Artis Foundation for Contemporary Art.

The Amie and Tony James Gallery’s mission is to bring artists and scholars into public dialogue on topics of mutual concern. Located in midtown Manhattan at the nexus of the academy, contemporary art, and the city, the gallery creates and presents artwork to the public in a variety of formats. While some exhibitions remain on view for extended contemplation, other activities such as performances, workshops, reading groups, roundtable discussions, salons, and screenings have a short duration.

The Center for Humanities at the Graduate Center, CUNY, encourages collaborative and creative work in the Humanities at CUNY and in the intellectual communities it serves through seminars, conferences, publications and exhibitions that inspire sustained and engaged conversation and change inside and outside the academy.