Khaled Jarrar at the 57th Venice Biennale The Absence of Paths: A Dinner that Never Came 13 May – 26 November 2017| Venice, Italy
In March 2015, the artist Khaled Jarrar was invited by Project 48 to produce a work relating to Nakba, the Palestinian catastrophe which refers to the events surrounding the formation of the State of Israel in 1948 and the ensuing mass displacement of Palestinians. As part of his project, The Absence of Paths: A Dinner that Never Came, Jarrar wanted to retrace the journey of his grandmother Shafiqa which had to flee Haifa in 1948 and lived in Arrabeh, Jenin, and produce a work in conjunction with it about a Palestinian family who had escaped the war in Syria in more recent contemporary form of displacement.
While thinking about this project and its personal dimensions, Jarrar came across an advertisement placed in Al Quds, a Palestinian-Arabic daily newspaper based in Jerusalem, that was signed by “Mona”. It contained information about her own mother Nadira who had escaped from Nazareth in 1948, in a manner similar to Jarrar’s grandmother’s escape from Haifa that same year. This personal correspondence resonated with Jarrar’s efforts to produce a project about his grandmother, but the project was also about a contemporary dilemma: the mass migration of Palestinians, amongst others, from Syria, and the urgency of their plight. Thus, he got in touch with the family and decided to go on this journey with the family documenting their story.