If an art exhibit goes up, but it never is opened to the public, does it exist?
Director, Tavia La Follette, got a call on her cell saying, “Tavia, I made it out. I am in Egypt!” She knew immediately who it was. The three Palestinian artists who were in the show, all were aware of one another but had never met. Manal is a Palestinian living in Israel, Bashar is based in the West Bank and Mohammed lives in Gaza. All of them, Palestinian but because of the way the land is separated; they can’t physically see or interact with one another.
“ArtUp had received visas for all of the artist, but because Mohammed is in Gaza, it is difficult to even leave the country. Gaza is an island. The only way he could fly out would be to cross at Egypt. Israel would not let him pass through”, explained director/curator, Tavia La Follette.
Egypt had closed the border – as they often do – but there were rumors of it opening up and Mohammed packed a bag and traveled to the border to see if it was true. He was able to cross! “Sit tight, Mohammed”, “we are buying you a ticket to Pittsburgh right now!
The artists went straight to work on their installations. Having communicated with La Follette, throughout the project, the MF was working hard to make sure they had everything they needed. The list included everything from a body of a car to rubber bullets to 100s of pounds of recycled washed glass and as many black, red and green plastic hairs beads as one can get!
They led in lectures at schools and absorbed the Pgh landscape.
A tree fell. It did not need to make a sound or have an audience to hear it-- for it rattled the earth. People felt it.