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Artist Adam HajYahia explores desire, sexual deviance in Palestine

A Palestinian artist and curator sheds light on the history of Palestine’s underworld in a recent exhibition.

Independent researcher, curator and artist Adam HajYahia believes that our imagination about Palestine has fallen short and become too narrow, colonized and segregated. 

His exploration of structural and hierarchical violence and its intersections with capitalist, colonial, sexual and social dynamics took material shape recently in an exhibition called “Carnal Politics: Sex, Desire and Anti-Colonial Deviance in Mandate Palestine.”

The show at the Open Society University Network's Center for Human Rights & the Arts at Bard College is the first iteration of an ongoing project based on Israel’s Byzantine State Archive. HajYahia discovered a swath of police records, personal correspondence and press materials that revealed insight into the stories of Palestinians, sex workers and feminists that time has forgotten.

The show caused a stir, offering the public a view of rarely seen materials and HajYahia’s own analysis through original work that manipulates and re-creates the documents through a modern lens. The show re-imagined new possibilities for Palestine’s future by linking today’s struggle to a long history of liberation and resistance.

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