Qalandiya International (QI) is an interdisciplinary event that takes place every two years across Palestinian cities, towns and villages, promoting contemporary art both locally and internationally. Although QI focuses on the visual arts and has produced a series of art exhibitions and performances, it also features film screenings, workshops, seminars, walks and trips around Palestine, as well as book launches and musical and artistic performances.

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, under the theme “Archives, Lived and Shared”, highlighting the role of archives in shaping Palestine’s past and present. The third edition will contemplate the concepts of return and refuge in both Palestine and the region under the theme "This Sea is Mine" and will run from 5-31, October 2016.

QI’s common goal is to put Palestine on the world’s cultural map, making it once again a gravitational point for arts and creativity. It also aims to open up channels of dialogue with the locally and internationally through programs that open up spaces for interaction between life and art.

Why Qalandiya?

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.