Tarek Al-Ghoussein: Statement
This project began with thoughts of Sisyphus. I was drawn to the apparent similarities between the Myth of Sisyphus and what I have observed to be a growing "myth" generated through the Western media, specifically the myth that all Palestinians are terrorists and that the Palestinian intifada, like Sisyphus, seems condemned to an endless cyclic struggle. Even the "tools" of the myths have similarities. Sisyphus is condemned by the gods to push a stone up a hill for eternity only to have it roll back down when inches from the top. Since the mid-1980s the news media have associated the Palestinian intifada with stone throwing and other acts of violence. Transcending media representations has been an ongoing "uphill battle" for Palestinians. The work represents a commentary on contemporary Western media representations of the Palestinian as terrorist. The series of self-portraits recontextualize the "trademarks" of the intifada (stone and scarf) using the light box, a medium traditionally reserved for advertising and the promotion of consumer goods.
The process of producing these photographs resulted in my detainment in an Arab country outside the UAE. This has made me realize that perhaps myself and other Arabs need to question our own associations with the "scarf". It has become a symbol of terrorism in its own right.
Tarek Al-Ghoussein at the 6th Sharjah Biennale, 2003
Tarek Al-Ghoussein, article by Gerhard Haupt and Pat Binder in the Online Magazine "Contemporary Art form the Islamic World" (June 2004)