The idea for Watchtowers was formed during the 2004-2005 Bernd and Hilla Becher retrospective at the Pompidou Centre. Batniji was struck by the formal likeness between the Becher water towers and the Israeli watchtowers surrounding the Palestinian territory. Like the German couple that started documenting Europe’s post-industrial heritage in the late 1950’s, Batniji established a typology of watchtowers on the West Bank in order for the viewers to look twice – initially to think they recognise the subject matter, only to find something else upon closer inspection.
The particularly perilous conditions under which the images were taken are visible: blurriness, clumsy framing, flawed light. On the Left Bank, there is no way to set up the same kind of heavy gear that the Bechers used nor to wait several days before the light is right and to take time to frame the shot.
Born in Gaza in 1966, Taysir Batniji studied art at Al-Najah University in Nablus, Palestine. In 1994, he was awarded a fellowship to study at the School of Fine Arts of Bourges in France. Since then, he has been dividing his time between France and Palestine. During this period spent between two countries and two cultures, Batniji has developed a multi-media practice, including drawing, installation, photography, video and performance. Batniji’s artwork, often tinged with impermanence and fragility, draws its inspiration from his subjective story, but also from current events and history. His methods of approach always distance, divert, stretch, conceptualise or simply play with the initial subject, offering, at the end, a poetic, sometimes acrid, point of view on reality.? Batniji was awarded the Immersion residency program, supported by Hermès Foundation, iin 2017 and the Abraaj Group Art Prize in 2012. His works can be found in the collections of many prestigious institutions, including the Centre Pompidou and the FNAC in France, the V&A and the Imperial War Museum in London, the Queensland Art Gallery in Australia and Zayed National Museum in Abu Dhabi.
Taysir Batniji / Watchtowers
- August 24, 2019 - October 20, 2019
8:00 am - 5:00 pm