Today’s media reality is characterised by easy access to images depicting wars and ethnic conflicts taking place all around the world. A good example of this phenomenon is film shots from Israel and the Occupied Territories, which are familiar to most people from the ‘West’, despite the fact that they have never visited the Middle East.

The exhibition Middle East Europe presents works of European artists who are responding to the Middle Eastern conflict in direct confrontation with the works of their Palestinian and Israeli counterparts. At the same time, the project demonstrates a historical as well as present interconnection between Europe and the Middle East. Many artists find the roots of today’s problem in European anti-Semitism, which led to the exodus of Jews to Palestine. Others observe the tension between cultures in today’s Europe and show how thin the line between fear, religious or racial intolerance and physical violence is, be it in today’s expressions of hatred of Jews or Islamophobia. One of the key topics of the exhibition is a comparison of works of art proceeding from direct personal experience with those inspired by the depiction of the conflict presented by the media. On a more general level, this exhibition, which maps the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through artistic statements, can serve as a model study of the mechanisms of political art in general. In this context the following questions arise: Can an artist comment on problems with which he/she has no personal experience? How does the reception of a work of art change when it is moved from the country of its origin to the place it is concerned with and how does this transfer change its meaning? Is there a fundamental difference between art and activism? Does art have an effect on the events it describes? And is anyone actually interested?

The project will include an accompanying programme of film screenings The Middle East – Nearer Than It Seems and a conference with talks by Palestinian, Israeli and European artists, as well as peace activists and experts on the Middle Eastern context. The objective of the conference is to critically evaluate the ways in which media images of a conflict create its “essence” and show the possible effects of art which deals with these issues.

Concept of exhibition series MIDDLE EAST EUROPE by Tamara Moyzes