Press release | Amsterdam, September 2020
At first glance, the brightly coloured work of Susanne Khalil Yusef’s (1984, Germany) seems lighthearted and playful: a group of small ceramic ornaments painted in yellow, blue and orange; a tower plastered with photographs of smiling people; and spray-painted on the windows, the text 'lalalalalalala' in bright pink, visible from the street. The lightheartedness is deceiving. Khalil Yusef’s art calls attention to the acute topics of migration, identity and displacement of, in particular, the Palestinian people. The use of neon paint is not applied to create a cheerful environment but rather refers to danger, to emergencies. The bright colours emphasise the urgency of the untold and unheard stories about Palestinian diaspora.
Susanne Khalil Yusef creates expansive multimedia installations, often containing or mixing mediums such as photography, film, ceramics and painting. She continues to develop her artistic expression by mastering new techniques and collaborating with musicians, ceramists and other artists. The role of photography is mostly characterised by found imagery, ranging from family albums to various archives, of both Israeli and Palestinian origin. She repurposes the photographs in her artworks to visualise a people that has been systematically erased and consciously kept out of sight. All the individual objects, characters, colours and shapes she uses in her art forms have meaning and play a part in the urgency of her personal story.
Susanne Khalil Yusef was born in 1984 in Germany and has been living in the Netherlands since she was a teenager. Her grandparents fled Jaffa, Palestine in 1984 during the Nabka – the forced Palestinian exodus caused by the proclamation of the state of Israel. They were determined to return, but they never did. Khalil Yusef is the only one in her family who ever returned to Jaffa. While working on her bachelor degree at St. Joost Academie she became committed to researching her own family history and Palestinian diaspora more broadly. In 2014 she spent a semester at the International Academy of Art in Ramallah, Palestine. The events she experienced and the people she encountered aided Khalil Yusef in building a creative palette that would shape her future visual vocabulary.
The exhibition is made possible by the Van Bijlevelt Foundation.
Lalalala by Susanne Khalil Yusef can be seen from 18 September – 13 December 2020 at Foam. Open daily 10am - 6pm, Thurs/Fri 10am - 9pm.
Foam is supported by the BankGiro Loterij, De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek, City of Amsterdam, Foam Members, Olympus and the VandenEnde Foundation.
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