Sander Buyck

27 May - 19 Jun 2011

West Bank Walls
27 May - 19 June, 2011

Photographer Sander Buyck shows images that emerged during a stay in the West Bank, Palestine, in late 2010, early 2011. Using a documentary-like language the photographer depicts life on the West Bank, where walls are omnipresent. These walls serve as physical and mental limitations, but also as a carrier of images that shape and form identities. He focuses on posters of perished heroes.

The photo project represents a collaboration between A Prior Magazine, Van Abbe Museum, Eindhoven and The International Academy of Art Palestine. This photo essay came about as a result of the "Picasso in Palestine' project, a concept of Khaled Hourani, artist and artistic director of The International Academy of Art Palestine in Ramallah. For the first time a work by Picasso will be displayed in an autonomous Palestinian. The painting Buste de Femme from1943 will begin its journey from Eindhoven on June 1, 2011 and travel to the West Bank via Israel. It will be exhibited for several weeks in Ramallah. A Prior Magazine features the Picasso in Palestine project, in its most-recent issue, providing background, images, criticism and a history. The pictures by Sander Buyck contextualize the project from his own photographic vision. Sander Buyck also documents the journey of the painting.

Following the opening of the exhibition, you can witness a debate with Renzo Martens, Sander Buyck, Remco Blaaij (curator Van Abbe Museum) and Els Roelandt (A Prior Magazine editors).

Commissioned by A Prior Magazine during the autumn of 2010, photographer Sander Buyck spent a few months in Palestine. There he worked on what would become the West Bank Walls project, a series of street scenes in Palestine. Buyck journeyed - aside from Gaza - to all of Palestine and stayed with Palestinian families who offered him shelter and helped him in his travels throughout the country. Mobility is a great central problem in Palestine and navigating from one city to another is no easy task, which is severely hampered by Israeli authorities. Not only do the presence of border crossings make mobility difficult, but there are also miles of walls, barriers and cumbersome administrative formalities. Jerusalem has thereby become the symbol of an inaccessible city. Palestinians have to drive for hours to cover relatively small distances due the fact that the well-constructed main roads are only accessible to Israelis. They use the small and poorly maintained roads, criss-crossing villages where no settlers are to be found. Omnipresent walls dominate the landscape and streetscape there.
During his trip Buyck focused on numerous weathered posters that appear upon the walls throughout the towns and cities. The tattered posters are not removed and discarded for they are tributes to various martyrs of the Palestinian cause, each a portrait with the date and place where the individual died. The concept of "martyrdom" in Islam has a special meaning: it signifies "every one who dies in the way of God." Honouring martyrs in the Qur'an is also described as one of the main duties of a good Muslim. Through the personal stories of the martyrs Buyck brings forward a small part of the personal daily struggle of the Palestinians, showing how in every aspect of daily life the occupation and religion are tangible.
For the exhibition West Bank Walls Buyck selected photos of three martyrs, which will be hung in various public spaces within Aalst. These photos confront the casual passer-by with the weathered images of anonymous, mostly young Palestinians. Thus, a piece of the Palestinian daily reality is infiltrated to us at a micro level.
A second part of the West Bank Walls exhibition shown in Netwerk depicts different street images from the towns of Nablous, Bethlehem, Ramallah, Jerusalem and Yafa.
A Prior Magazine, who will publish the full set of martyr photos in its 22nd edition, “Picasso in Palestine” (released in the fall), hopes this project will place the media overexposure of violence in the region in another light and illuminates the problem from another, more personal and relevant perspective.
The project West Bank Walls is part of the exhibition “Picasso in Palestine, A Modern Icon in Ramallah”. On June 23rd “Picasso in Palestine” will bring for the first time in history a painting by Picasso to Palestine (Buste de Femme, 1943). It will be shown in the International Academy of Art Palestine and comes by virtue of a simple loan request. The Van Abbe Museum, who will loan the work, together with the Palestinian Academy has made every effort to ensure that this -unfortunately unusual loan – becomes a reality. The realization of this project was and is an extremely complex undertaking involving not only academic questions concerning the relationship between art, politics and geopolitics but also what the actual journey entailed for the painting and all parties involved.

– Els Roelandt
A Prior Magazin

Tags: Khaled Hourani, Renzo Martens