Art exhibition ‘On Friendship/(Collateral Damage) III – The Third GaLUT: Baghdad, Jerusalem, Amsterdam’
The Guest becomes Host
Curator: Linda Bouws.
On Friendship/(Collateral Damage) III – The Third GaLUT: Baghdad, Jerusalem, Amsterdam (7 September 2019-19 January 2020) is an aesthetic and poetic research into the cities Baghdad, Jerusalem and Amsterdam, which has been conceived by artist Joseph Sassoon Semah and curated by Linda Bouws (Metropool International Art Projects). All these cities are said to have been tolerant at some time in their history, but how does that relate to ‘otherness’ and what does it mean today?
The project focuses on two lines of thought. The first is what Semah calls ‘The Third GaLUT’, the third Exile, a metaphor for disconnectedness. The second is ‘The Guest’ - someone who is allowed to live and work in a foreign context tests his surroundings by articulating his particular position in exile without any reservations. The Guest becomes Host. By this process Semah investigates one of the greatest achievements of human civilisation: hospitality. Joseph Sassoon Semah translates his cultural and visual heritage, and its subtext, into contemporary art. While doing so he reassesses and redefines lost heritages.
Joseph Sassoon Semah shares his lost rich Babylonian cultural heritage and asks the public to review their own art, culture, traditions and identity. This will take place mainly in 36 public locations in Amsterdam.
There will be new pieces of art, performances, debates, lectures, round-table discussions, video-interviews, a publication in English, articles on diverse platforms, and a research report as well as a video report. Simultaneously in Amsterdam (The Hermitage), Baghdad (in front of the Meir Tweig Synangogue) and Jerusalem (Jerusalem Biennale 2019) a small house will be built: MaKOM in MaKOM.
Artist Joseph Sassoon Semah was born in Baghdad (Iraq, 1948), as one of the last of a Babylonian Jewish family lineage, the grandson of Chief Rabbi Hacham Sassoon Kadoori (1885-1971). Kadoori was the head of the Babylonian Jewish community and preached of peace between Judaism, Islam and Christianity. Baghdad once was one of the most diverse an tolerant cities in the world. The Babylonian Jews in Iraq were one of the oldest and historically seen, the most important Jewish community. The Talmud Bavli was compiled in Babylon and during the British mandate in the 1920s, the well-educated Jews played an important role in public life. But from 1948, the year of independence for Israel, life for Jews in Iraq becomes extremely difficult.
Between 1950-1952, 120.000 - 130.000 Iraqi Jews were transported to Israel. The displaced Baghdadi Jews were forced to leave behind their culture and possessions in Iraq. Semah, together with his parents was displaced to the State of Israel in 1950. His grandfather Hacham Sassoon Kadoori refused to leave Iraq and stayed in Bagdhad until his death.
As a Babylonian Jew who emigrated to the West (Amsterdam), he is part of GaLUT (Exile), an endless cycle of diaspora and return. You long for your country of birth and search for a way to relate to your cultural heritage and traditions. Heritage reminds us of our history.
On Friendship/(Collateral Damage) III – The Third GaLUT: Baghdad, Jerusalem, Amsterdam was realised in part with the support of AFK, BPD Cultuurfonds, Metropool International Art Projects and Mondriaan Fonds.
For more info:
Pictures by Ilya Rabinovich
Interview by Lumen Travo's director Marianne van Tilborg (Dutch only):