Installation – Performance – Body
To understand in depth the art of Hannan Abu Hussein, one should know her origins and some of the milestones in her life.
Hannan was born in 1972 in Umm al Fahm, and she grew up there. She was raised with a great degree of freedom. As an only daughter after four boys, she was allowed to paint and use all the colors she wanted. By the time she was in high school, she already knew that she wanted to study art. Her family, however, wasn't thrilled with the idea, but eventually agreed to let her attend the Yezreel Valley College. From there, Hannan went on to study at various academic institutions, including Bezalel. At the same time, she fully developed in the educational direction, initially operating in the Isawiya neighborhood of East Jerusalem, where she lives to this day, and later in other places as well. It is at this early point in her career that one can identify the two powerful forces that are operating within her.
Hannan deals with the body, her own body and the bodies of many other women. She smears and covers, gets dirty and works, labors, incorporating collective motifs of Arab society, of the working class, using baking materials from the kitchen. She moves in circles: The Arab, the laborer, the woman. She builds her installations all by herself. When she came to the gallery to put up her show, she brought with her all her tools and countless materials: threads, needles, blankets, brassieres, panty hose, hair, razors, men's shirts, pencils, concrete, floor tiles… They all continue to spread their own growing ripples.
Her materials come in large quantities. One is part of a larger whole, one of a crowd, anonymous. It does not exist in and of itself. But Hannan does. Her feminine language is constantly restructured, intuitive yet meticulously and rational, going out into the space, into the place. On the other hand, there is also the straight line, the stretched grid. Framed, enclosed, frozen in concrete, masculine.
She herself no longer belongs to anyone. This is how she created herself.
But in this space she awakens all those others who are not her; those who are, deep down, her.
She speaks for all those who suffer because of power and authority.
Here, Hannan Abu-Hussein is the closest to her family, to her mother, to the place where she was born, Umm al-Fahm. Umm al-Fahm is where the roads were recently blocked by Arab demonstrators (accompanied by a handful of Jews) protesting against violence in Arab society and the police's failure to act. One thing that stood out in these demonstrations was the presence of women, including many older women, who chose to take to the streets to clearly voice their protest over this violence, one that harms both their sons and their sisters; unilateral, irreversible violence.
The exhibition constitutes the third chapter in the trilogy exhibited at the Givat Haviva Art Gallery over the past year, dealing with female protest against the power and authority of male society - In Jewish society, in Arab society, in the world.
All the artists showcased in this trilogy, with Abu-Hussein now, prove that in the second decade of the 21st century, women are still not flourishing the way they are supposed to flourish. Instead they are confined, covered, and mentally and physically bruised.
It is not over; it is found in many places and right here at home, in the worst possible way. Society is still dominated by the concepts of property and honor; it is still under the rule of the patriarchy.
Inside the gallery, which is the heart of the collaborative Art Center that is in Givat Haviva, in Wadi Ara, in Israel, Abu Hussein, whose last name also seems to have marked her path, builds the frozen concrete bras, the open-mouthed stretched tights, the mute threads, the pencils standing in formation and the pointed knives.
She builds relationships between symbols and body. A woman. Women. Humans. She defines their true limits.
The Haifa-based dance group Carmella performs Esclave as movement, feeling, rhythm.
Demons are dancing in the darkness of the night. The illusion of courtship.
A captive dream wanders between fear and love, between gone and familiar.
Choreography by Doron Raz