Burning Question

What is left of the left in Italy?


Traveled To

Rome and Palermo, Italy


About the Artist

Born 1970, Bethlehem. Lives and works in Ramallah and New York.


I am interested in the transformation of Italy’s major cities that are currently grappling with a significant influx of immigration. How is this mix of incongruous cultures and displaced identities making a home in Italy? What are the cultural negotiations that take place in such culturally distinct spaces within the urban fabric of a city? Of particular interest to me is the Bangladeshi community in Rome. This is the largest Bangladeshi community in Europe; it exploded into being in 1990. Unlike other immigrant groups there are no bilateral structures accounting for their presence. In addition, I want to learn more about the Italian tradition of social activism, which was born in Rome in the 1960s. What activist practices are taking place today in the fields of art and media? What role are artists taking in the promotion of social change? How do artists work in the public sphere and in public space? What happened to the left-wing publications and zines of the 60s? What is being produced now?

—Emily Jacir

Emily Jacir’s work spans a diverse range of media and strategies including film, photography, social interventions, installation, performance, video, writing and sound. Recurrent themes in her practice include repressed historical narratives, resistance, political land divisions, movement (both forced and voluntary) and the logic of the archive. Jacir has shown extensively throughout Europe, the Americas and the Middle East since 1994.


Awards include a Golden Lion at the 52nd Venice Biennale (2007) for her work “Material for a film”; a Prince Claus Award from the Prince Claus Fund in The Hague (2007); and the Hugo Boss Prize at the Guggenheim Museum (2008).


In 2003, belongings was published by O.K Books, a monograph on a selection of Jacir’s work from 1998 – 2003. Her second monograph (2008) was published by Verlag Fur Moderne Kunst Nurnberg.


She has been actively involved in education in Palestine since 2000 including PIVF and Birzeit University.  She is a full-time professor at the International Academy of Art Palestine where she has been teaching since 2006. She conceived of and co-curated the first Palestine International Video Festival in Ramallah in 2002. She also curated a selection of shorts; “Palestinian Revolution Cinema (1968 – 1982)” which went on tour in 2007.