“Past Disquiet. Narratives and Ghosts from the International Art Exhibition for Palestine, 1978” is a documentary and archival exhibition centered on the research conducted on and around the story of the International Art Exhibition for Palestine, which opened in the spring of 1978 in Beirut, Lebanon at the Beirut Arab University. Organized by the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO), it was comprised of around 200 donated works from nearly 30 countries. The exhibition was intended as the seed collection for a museum in exile, taking the form of an itinerant exhibition that was meant to tour worldwide until it could be repatriated to Palestine. During the Israeli siege of Beirut in 1982, the building where the works were stored, together with the exhibition’s archival and documentary traces, was destroyed by the Israeli military.
The size and scope of the 1978 International Art Exhibition for Palestine was unprecedented in the region. The reconstructed story of the exhibition has surfaced an intricate network and shared history of politically engaged artists and initiatives and revealed a scarcely documented history of grassroots artists collectives in cities like Paris, Rome and Tokyo, artists unions in Damascus, Baghdad and Casablanca, seminal editions of biennials in Venice, Baghdad and Rabat and similar museums in exile in Santiago de Chile, Managua and in Cape Town.
Conceived to exhibit, mediate and incarnate the multiple themes and questions that have guided this research, “Past Disquiet” contains montaged video using archival material and film as well as contemporary interviews and writing, in addition to reproductions of significant documents. The exhibition revisits artistic practice entrenched in the political engagement of the international anti-imperialist solidarity movement of the 1970s. In recording memories of artists, critics and cultural organizers, “Past Disquiet” draws unsuspected cartographies across time and geography, where the stories of “The International Resistance Museum for Salvador Allende”, the “Artists of the World Against Apartheid”, the “Art for the People of Nicaragua”, the “Salon de la Jeune Peinture”, the “International Brigades of Anti-Fascist Painters”, the “Japan Afro-Asian Latin American Artists Association” and the “Biennials of Arab Art” in Baghdad 1974 and in Rabat 1976, intersect with the International Art Exhibition for Palestine.