In Mind, Body and Soul of Palestine: A Photo Journal Exhibit, time, imagery, and stereotype are challenged and contradicted. Indeed, some of the imagery in the photographs contradict each other, causing the viewer to reconsider what they know about this country called Palestine that is constantly being reported but seldom understood. The show is presented by al-PHAN (which stands for Palestinian Humanities and Arts Now), a Chicago-based not-for-profit organization, and will be traveling around the U.S through next spring. Mind, Body and Soul was reviewed at its Chicago installation, where it was installed at ARC Gallery last September.
The three featured photographers, Steve Sabella, Luke Powell, and Andrew Courtney, document the same geography but with completely different formal approaches. Sabella’s brilliantly colored, large photographs are very different from Powell’s vertical landscapes, which reference Asian scroll paintings in their composition. And Courtney’s quiet black and white meditations seem like they can be read as short poetic phrases because of their considered simplicity.
All three challenge perceived notions of Palestine. Powell’s pastoral landscapes shimmer in their timelessness, betraying notions offered by 19th century visitors like Mark Twain, who wrote that Palestine is a dusty, dirty place inhabited by barbaric, unsophisticated people. The warm, green tones of his photographs also contradict the contemporary perception that Palestine is a country only characterized by violence and fighting.