As if there was never modernity, as if Palestine was not occupied by the Israelis (Rana is a Palestinian living in Israel), as if the authenticity of cultural specification had not been blurred by the influences of the 'other' as global awareness tainted the focus of tradition; Rana Bishara's works on paper communicate the integrity of a centered vision. Stained by henna, the muddy dye that is used to color the skin and hair and an ancient beautifier, the handmade, fragile paper supports the calligraphic markings that bring to mind Arabic scripts. The honest simplicity, consistently more gracious than the pontificating art of the market driven western world, is effective. Faultlessly secure in her technique and application, the work speaks of a return to roots that have been twisted by countless influences. It speaks of a woman's place of resignation, the boundaried perspectives of walled enclosures and materials close at hand. Yet despite the quiet presentation and humble means, the work sings and reverberates like an ululation.
Not that the work is uninformed by the modern world. Rana Bishara has not been adverse to using mediums as progressive as installation and performance to put forth statements concerning human rights and freedom of expression. The courage of acceptance, the embracing of the less demonstrative from within a country that has been permeated by strife, and the bravery to put forth the value of gentler expressions is the subtlest of strategic methodologies. It is a Ghandian methodology. It will not entertain violent or aggressive promotions and instead brings forth a sureness of foot that is admired for its graceful dexterity.
Are the signs messages and if so are they of peace or passion? It is impossible to know from a western vantage point and this fact as well, illustrates that although ethnicities might converge with occasion, their differences remain mysterious. Since there is no guilt passed outwards in Rana Bishara's paper offerings, no didactic warnings to stay out, the door is open to experience another culture.
Copyright © 2007, Julie Oakes