“Past Tense” exhibition combines old and new photos of Jerusalem

Combining old and new photographs of Jerusalem and its surrounding landscape, artist Jack Persekian displays his work in “Past Tense,” a large-scale exhibition, inaugurated by Birzeit University Museum on October 29, 2019, in collaboration with the university’s Faculty of Art, Music and Design.

Persekian is the founder and director of Al-Ma’mal Foundation for Contemporary Art and of Gallery Anadiel, and was the director and head curator of The Palestinian Museum. Through his artwork he invites viewers to compare views of Jerusalem and its surrounding, photographed at different times; study the changes that have occurred; and align the physical transformations with the events that took place in the city and the region during the last century, thereby urging his audience to discuss Jerusalem’s present and explore its future.

Artist Persekian said that when he found a collection of old images of Jerusalem, taken by photographers from the American Colony during the last century and saved at the Library of Congress, he looked for their locations in Jerusalem, took new photos of today’s settings, and offset the two against each other in one image, creating comparative views as works of contemporary art. Persekian explained that he “made sure that the photographs of Jerusalem today are taken at the same location and are shot from exactly the same spot and angle.”

Persekian emphasized the importance of monitoring, comprehending, and communicating the changes that have occurred over time, and are still ongoing, in order to deepen people’s understanding of their history and future.

Nazmi Al Jubeh, director of the museum, expressed his enthusiasm about the exhibition that will be on view until the beginning of January, 2020. According to Jubeh, the exhibition is the result of years of research and exploration undertaken by Persekian with the aim to document the changes that have occurred to Jerusalem, showing its beauty and documenting its significance in two different eras.

Vice President for Community Affairs Asem Khalil said that this exhibition highlights and explores one of the dearest cities to the Palestinians hearts. It showcases the compulsive changes that have been afflicted to the city in attempts to erase its identity and diversity, killing the spirit of coexistence inside the city.

Khalil emphasized the university’s support to such exhibitions, saying that “They promote and communicate the Palestinian narrative, document our history, and seek to maintain our identity through art and culture.”