Utopian and Dystopian Palestines: From Literature to Art and Back at the ‘Chapter 31’ Exhibition

ArabLit & ArabLit Quarterly

“Chapter 31: A New Archaeology Of The Future”[1] is a new exhibition that tips its hat to  Emile Habibi’s pioneering text The Secret Life of Saeed The Pessoptimist. How can this be a springboard to imaginging Palestinian utopias and dystopias?

By Sinéad Murphy

booksChapter 31, subtitled  ‘An Odd Piece Of Research On The Many Virtues Of The Oriental Imagination,’ offers the viewer an eclectic variety of utopian and dystopian images of future Palestine. Curated by the Sarha Collective and opened on 4th August in P21 Gallery in Chalton St, London, the exhibition features a diverse assemblage of artists primarily from Palestine, Syria, and Jordan but also including contributors from Brazil, France, Kuwait, and Lithuania.

The prefatory comments in the exhibition’s accompanying programme concede that “visualising the future required the use of more complicated narratives than we had originally anticipated”[2] and certainly, this is evident in the extensive variety of artistic…

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