Thursday, August 31, 2006

Words Can Never Hurt Me?

This artistic work is currently part of the Word into Art exhibition at the British Museum. Dictionary Work (1997) is by Khalil Rabah, the Palestinian artist who was born in Jerusalem (1961) and who now lives and works in Ramallah. Many of his works are about the theme of displacement, replacement or ‘feeling (a)part’.

This Oxford Desk Dictionary/Thesaurus (American edition) is covered with nails which obliterate everything except the dictionary entry: ‘Philistine’.

The definition alongside reads, ‘Member of a people opposing the Israelites in ancient Palestine. Person who is hostile or indifferent to culture. Vulgar, ignoramus, barbarian, boor, yahoo'.

Dictionary Work penetrates into Rabah’s contemporary context, however, its timeless message challenges the painful ways our words hammer at cultures, box people in and nail them to destructive, labels of lies.

Geoff Pound