Nasrin Abu Baker, *1977 in Zalafa, Israel
lives and works in Jerusalem and Leipzig. As a Palestinian Israeli, she grew up with the contradiction between her Palestinian identity and her Israeli identity. She was under social and political pressure to embody a certain identity, to be part of a particular group or to accept certain opinions. Her work aims to resolve these simple lines of definition. Based on her experience, she deals in her work with the idea of the ‚decolonization of the Palestinian woman’s body‘.
The female body has been used in the past in Palestinian culture mostly as a passive object, as a symbol of land, nation and national struggle. As iconographic figures, women were a central theme in Palestinian art, but only as metaphors that stand for something different, not individuals.
Abu Baker’s work aims to show individual identity behind the symbolic use of the female body and to include the dimension of (female) sexuality in the representation of women. Representations of female sexuality or even of the naked body are still taboo in Palestinian society and are considered blasphemy.
On the works in the exhibition:
*While coming to terms with the Arab-Israeli conflict and its long history of violence, uprooting and migration, I also grapple with an added layer of my identity as a woman living in a patriarchal society. Through my work as an artist, I address societal taboos and aim to protest against dysfunctional traditions driven by religious and cultural convention. In my immediate community, female voices are often silenced and emotions often hidden away.
I am trying to make them visible and heard again. I choose to show women in a broad spectrum of emotion and I also provoke – often without purpose – for example by using nudity. In my community Nudity is strongly linked ideas of indecency and shame. My characters, like me, are hybrid beings – hybrids pendulating between purity and filth, bourgeois mainstream and margin, beauty and monstrousity, softness and cruelty.
In accordance with my subjects I use industrial materials, rough forms and expressive colors that make my works oscillate between naivety and aggression.*
Prizes and Scholarships:
In 2011 she was awarded a prize for The Present is Absent by the Mifal Hapais Culture and Art Council. In 2014 she was a scholar of the Schir Residence in Berlin and Artist in Residence in the studio of Quartier 21 in Berlin Vienna.