Shuruq Harb, Ramallah

Your life in a few words, exactly from where it started

It started on July 12, 1980 in Ramallah. My mom decided to give me the name “Shuruq” which means sunrise, since I was delivered around 5 am. I always thought it was an optimistic name to give to someone, as it meant the promise of a new day. But it certainly made me devour the sunlight. 

Your art is focused in shaping political issues in new light but you’re also focused in writing and editing. From where this multiple expressive need comes from? Is something also pertaining to the pervasion in reaching audience.

I heard this description of my work before! I would say that my art is focused on peripheral issues such as online and popular culture, that people don’t always see as inherently political, and in doing so I shed new light.

For me writing is an everyday natural practice, something that I have done since I was six years old. It is an important part of who I am. The impetus towards editorial projects stems from the desire to create alternative publishing platforms for artists and expand the way discourses are framed. For many artists like myself, research and process is just as important as the final product. The editorial projects that have created or invited into were always about showcasing that and in a way creating communities that allow for exchange and circulation of ideas. Editorial projects give you the space to meet new people but also support other people’s ideas and process. They are an intimate way of engaging with someone and their work. 

Can you tell us more about ArtTerritories?

ArtTerritories was a collaborative online editorial and publishing platform that I co-created with artist Ursula Biemann. The platform was made up of several interview threads that we called “Trails” that were made up of rigorous and experimental interviews amongst artists and thinkers. Once a person was done with an interview, they would go ahead and select someone else to interview-in that way the network expanded organically. From 2011-2016 ArtTerritories produced a lot of interesting interviews that ranged in style and content – from the politics of the image, public space, history and art history in and around the Arab world. 

Are you agreeing to be defined also a curator?

I perceive myself as an artist, and as an artist I also write and edit, curate, instigate and organize. Visually my medium is the moving image- video and film, but I also love the power of the “word” and I also think it is important to be involved in collaborative and community building projects. For me it is important to be instigator of opportunities for myself and other artists. Artist lead initiatives are very important components of any interesting and critical art scene. 

You’ve recently won an important prize assisting you in the production of a new video work, thanks to Han Nefkens Foundation (Mr Nefkens is really a very different patron!). Which is your perception in the wide world of patronizing contemporary art and how is difficult to raise funds for art imbibed with very political issues?

I am very grateful that I got the Han Nefkens video production award. Not only is it giving me a means to produce a new work, it will also showcase the work in five different international art institutions over the next two years. Such opportunities are very rare and exceptional. 

It is hard to generalize about funding the arts within a global context, as each region or country has specific challenges. 

A talent you have, the one you miss?

Dance & Theater- they were the first collaborative artistic forms that I enjoyed as a child. We lived under a lot of political curfews in the 80s, so my siblings and I imagined characters and plots, dance routines to keep ourselves busy.

What do you feel to give to your city and what your city gives you back?

I have a complicated relationship with my hometown city of Ramallah.

Sometimes it is the place that suffocates that I want to escape, other times it alienates because I don’t fit in and I want to belong. I run away from it and I run to it. It is the genesis for a lot of my artworks and writings, it is the source of inspiration and also the source of pain, especially now that the geography of the Palestinian landscape is so divided.

Where do you see yourself in ten years from now?

Making more art, films and videos….producing more writing and books. 

What did you learn from life until now?

Happiness exists in the simple things and it is important to be happy especially in our world of acceleration that thrives on anxiety. It is a lesson that I have to keep relearning because I want to enjoy my work, I want to remain excited about the process. 

Shuruq published on Slow Words her short essay Acts of Simulation

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