No Condition Is Permanent: More About the Exhibition

The works on view include photography, painting, drawing, video, installation and performance, showcasing Taysir Batniji’s diverse practice.

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The exhibition’s curatorial narrative shares a common thread relating to the fragility and the in-betweenness of forms, situations, geographies and identities, but also of the subjective and the personal. This notion is expressed in the artist’s own words about an experience he had waiting for hours at the border in Rafah (between Egypt and Palestine) in 2004 when Israel was increasing its surveillance: ‘I wanted to resist time by holding the camera, but at the same time I wanted to resist the agony of tension. My camera was the only salvation, to document what was happening as a witness… and at the same time I was not able to break free from that anguish. Time passed and what [I] could only control was waiting.’

The works in No Condition Is Permanent present multiple meanings of home, the autobiographical, and the collective, exploring how the individual can gain agency in relation to them. The viewer’s position is a critical component in the exhibition, with the layers experienced in the work inviting engagement in open dialogue, and debate. Systems become fragile when unveiled, and in doing so, the viewers’ reaction is central in defining ways of conceptualizing the shared present and future.

About the Galleries

Atrium & Gallery 1

The exhibition starts with early works by Taysir Batniji, which establish the theme of impermanence running through the rest of the show. These works explore particular situations, with a focus on the autobiographical events that influenced the life and work of the artist starting in Gaza, Palestine.

A photograph is mounted on a white wall down a long corridor with pencil shavings strewn on the floor.

Taysir Batniji (1966), Hannoun, 1972-2009. Photo courtesy of the artist and Sfeir-Semler Gallery Beirut & Hamburg

Gallery 2

Belonging and space are two themes that are defined by the creation of a state of freedom. Spatiality in its literal and transformative forms is presented in the work of Taysir Batniji as a state of being, that does not necessarily rely on a physical place. So in Hannoun (1972–2009), which is a site-specific performative installation, the artist presents red shavings that, from a distance, resemble poppy flowers. This room represents Batniji’s studio in Gaza, a fragile place built for contemplation but never accessible to him to work in, due to the 15-year siege on the strip.

Yellow bricks of soap stacked on top of each other.

Taysir Batniji (1966), No Condition is Permanent, 2014. Photo courtesy of the artist and Sfeir-Semler Gallery Beirut & Hamburg.

Gallery 3

Taysir Batniji addresses political situations in a poetic way, responding to established systems with transitional and impermanent forms. The display also showcases the artist's current exploration of ideas of movement, fragility, migration and architecture.

No Condition Is Permanent (2014–2022), which the exhibition borrows its title from, is a fragile work with a strong message, paradoxically conveying both fatalism and hope. The sculpture, showing bars of soap engraved with the title of the work stacked on a pallet, evokes the manufacturing aspect of soap production, raising questions around labour and the systematic action of washing the body, which erases the soap over time, but also holds the possibility of hope by removing the residue of past conditions. Additionally, the act of engraving goes back to past civilizations that depended on writing to carry on stories to the future. These contradictions of writing and cleansing combine aspects of fragility.