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No Good Time for an Exhibition: Reflections on the Picasso in Palestine Project, Part II

→ Continued from “No Good Time for an Exhibition: Reflections on the Picasso in Palestine Project, Part I.”

The poems, at least in translation, left me unmoved, except for the beauty of the calligraphy. They were about struggle and disaster, but I couldn’t make anything of the imagery, which was all about doves and damsels and honey.

—Jean Genet

For the official opening five days later, Khaled Hourani staged a gala event. Buste de Femme hung in its room monitored by two armed guards flanking the velvet stanchions that formed a barrier between viewer and painting. Visitors, allowed entry in pairs (to control humidity), queued outside on the veranda where they could distract themselves by examining the custom-built crate (fabricated by the German firms Hasenkamp Holdings and the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics) on display in the foyer. Like any blockbuster exhibition in the West, merchandise was on sale, though Picasso in Palestine differed from the former with respect to the folkloric dancers and musicians who performed and because of the speeches given that day, one was by a head of state (if only a putative one), Prime Minister Salam Fayyad of the Palestinian Authority (PA).

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