Art Transcending the Gallery at Re-Rooting Exhibition in Jordan
At the “re-rooting” exhibition in Amman, Jordan’s, Darat al Funun gallery, the art on display represents issues and initiatives that are by no means conceptual.
They are very real and deal with topics that “re-rooting” curator Rana Beiruti says are on the mind of every Jordanian. This includes water, food sovereignty, food security, agriculture, and misuse of land.
“The topics that are brought up affect people daily whether they recognize it or not,” Beiruti said. “And I think what the exhibition does, it offers a moment of reflection and really concrete, hard evidence of what is taking place behind the scenes of these things that we experience daily.”
While you’re at the “re-rooting” exhibition, which is open to the public from March 1 to June 30, it’s not hard to realize that these are the topics up for discussion, even for those who don’t frequent art galleries.
Detailed signs provide context on what is being displayed and some installations at the exhibition feature historical documents proving exactly how events of the past have shaped the realities people are facing in Jordan today.
At one display titled Al Barakeh Wheat, which features installations representative of the on-the-ground work done by the UNESCO-recognized program Zikra for Popular Learning, a combination of news clippings, videos, photos, and more serve as both art and evidence.
The display shows how Jordan was once a flourishing hub for wheat cultivation, how imposed foreign interests led the country to be dependent on wheat imports, and how Zikra is working with communities to restore local wheat harvest in Jordan.
Beiruti said this idea of using art to reflect initiatives actively taking place in Jordan is what the “re-rooting” exhibition was founded on. “The artwork isn’t in the exhibition space, the exhibition space is a representation of their actual intervention in real life,” she said.
And with the works of twenty different people from different walks of life being featured at the exhibit, there is plenty to see and plenty to learn.
Arguably one of the most symbolic installations at “re-rooting” is one by Amman resident Rawan Baybars.
Three glass cases filled with soil taken from a plot of land near Baybars’ home reflect the work she does to restore land through composting.
“She’s not an artist but I knew that she was engaging in this kind of activism in the urban space, so I called her and I said how about we take what you did and just re-present it somehow in the exhibition,” Beiruti said.
The first glass case shows what the dry, trash-filled soil near Baybars’ home looks like normally, the second case shows the remarkable improvements she made to the soil through composting, and the final case shows how she transformed the soil and gave it new life.
Through the glass of the final case the roots of the plants thriving in the recovered soil are plainly visible. Beiruti said she loved that the exhibition called “re-rooting” is growing roots of its own.
“With the idea of ‘re-rooting’ what we wanted to say is that we’re not going back to our roots in this nostalgic sense, no,” she said. “Let’s go back to a better time when the earth was in a better place. It’s more about how can we root ourselves once again with a better system or a better way of working.”