Qalandiya International (QI) is a biennial event that takes place across Palestinian cities, towns, and villages. It focuses on exhibiting contemporary Palestinian and international art, highlighting valuable architectural sites, and includes talks, walks, performances and more.
The first edition of QI, Life and Art in Palestine, took place between 1-15 November 2012. The second edition was from 22 October to 15 November 2014, and featured works by over 100 Palestinian and international artists, collated in a series of newly commissioned art projects under the theme “Archives, Lived and Shared”, highlighting the role of archives in shaping Palestine’s past and present.
Collaborative in nature and ambitious in scale, QI is an attempt to join forces and resources and form links across a fragmented geography – an innovative response to the need to find solutions that work for the collective rather than the individual institutions. In the broader perspective, besides generating opportunities for artists in the region and from elsewhere, QI also aims to engage the local public in programs not straitjacketed by realpolitik and allow them to look at art in a more imaginative and open manner.
For the past decade, the word ‘Qalandiya’ has been associated with the infamous Israeli checkpoint that helps to confine the West Bank, disconnecting it from Jerusalem and the rest of the world. This checkpoint has been a significant presence both in the media and in the visual and literary works produced in and about Palestine. It is the setting for countless scenes of daily suffering and subjugation, and its stories offer sad but telling glimpses of the oppressive regime of the occupation.
However, ‘Qalandiya’ also has other connotations. Some of these have been deliberately blurred or totally erased over the years, but a closer look can uncover them: it recalls the now closed Qalandiya Airport, for example (or the Jerusalem International Airport as it was initially called), as well as the Qalandiya refugee camp, and Qalandiya village (which the wall has divided into two separate parts).
In all its senses Qalandiya is a meeting-place for contradictions. Until 1967, when its airport was taken over by the Israeli authorities, it was the West Bank’s key link with the rest of the world, but since the construction of the checkpoint in 2000 it has been a symbol of disconnection, isolation, segregation and fragmentation. Today, there are plans to build a settlement there.
Qalandiya International will utilize the name and its many meanings to bring together a series of events seeking to present a truer picture of Palestine to the international cultural scene, inviting audiences to share in the contradictory experiences embedded in the symbolic paradox of Qalandiya.
Organisers and Partners
QI is the culmination of the vision and effort of a group of prominent Palestinian cultural organisations focusing on contemporary art. These include the following institutions: Al-Ma’mal; the A. M. Qattan Foundation; Arab Culture Association in Haifa; International Academy of Art Palestine; Khalil Sakakini Cultural Centre; Palestinian Art Court – Al Hoash; Ramallah Municipality; Riwaq and the Palestinian Museum. QI is also in partnership this year with MinRASY PROJECTS, Windows and Iltiqa for Contemporary Art in Gaza and Al-Mashghal (the Factory) in Haifa.