Emily Jacir

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Emily Jacir
Born1972 (age 50–51)
EducationUniversity of Dallas, Memphis College of Art

Emily Jacir (Arabic: املي جاسر) is a Palestinian artist and filmmaker.


Jacir was born in Bethlehem in 1973,[1] Jacir spent her childhood in Saudi Arabia, attending high school in Italy. She attended the University of Dallas, Memphis College of Art and graduated with an art degree. She divides her time between New York and Ramallah.[2][3] She is the older sister of the filmmaker and artist Annemarie Jacir.

Work and career[edit]

Jacir works in a variety of media including film, photography, installation, performance, video, writing and sound. She draws on the artistic medium of concept art and social intervention as a framework for her pieces, in which she focuses on themes of displacement, exile, and resistance, primarily within the context of Palestinian occupation.[4]

She has exhibited extensively throughout the Americas, Europe, and the Middle East since 1994, holding solo exhibitions in places including New York City, Los Angeles, Ramallah, Beirut,[5] London and Linz.

Active in the building of Ramallah's art scene since 1999, Jacir has also worked with various organizations including the A. M. Qattan Foundation, Al Ma'mal Foundation for Contemporary Art and the Sakakini Cultural Center. She has been involved in creating numerous projects and events such as Birzeit's Virtual Art Gallery. She also founded and curated the first International Video Festival in Ramallah in 2002.[6] She curated a selection of shorts; Palestinian Revolution Cinema (1968 – 1982) which went on tour in 2007.[7] Between 2000 - 2002 she curated several Arab Film programs in NYC with Alwan for the Arts including the first Palestinian Film Festival in 2002. She works as a full-time professor at the vanguard International Academy of Art Palestine since it opened its doors in 2006 and she also served on its Academic Board from 2006 through 2012. Jacir led the first year of the Ashkal Alwan Home Workspace Program in Beirut (2011-2012) and created the curriculum and programming after serving on the founding year of the Curricular Committee from 2010-2011.

Recent juries[edit]

  • 2010 - current: Civitella Advisory Council, Italy
  • 2010 Young Artist of the Year Award, A.M. Qattan Foundation Ramallah
  • 2012 Cda-Projects Grant for Artistic Research and Production, Istanbul, Turkey[8]
  • 2012 Berlinale Shorts Film Jury, Germany[9]
  • 2012 CinemaXXI Jury, Rome Film Festival, Italy[10]
  • 2014 Visions du Reel Festival International du Cinéma, Nyon, Switzerland


  • On 17 October 2007 she won the 'Leone d'Oro a un artista under 40' - (Golden Lion for artists under 40), - at the 52nd Venice Biennale for "a practice that takes as its subject exile in general and the Palestinian issue in particular. Without recourse to exoticism, the work on display in the central Pavilion at the Giardini establishes and expands a crossover between cinema, archival documentation, narrative and sound".[11][12][13]
  • She was the recipient of the 2007 Prince Claus Award, an annual prize from the Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Development, The Hague, which described Jacir as "an exceptionally talented artist whose works seriously engage the implications of conflict."[14]
  • She is the winner of the 2008 Hugo Boss Prize by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. The Jury noted that she won the award for her "rigorous conceptual practice—comprising photography, video, performance, and installation-based work—bears witness to a culture torn by war and displacement. As a member of the Palestinian diaspora, she comments on issues of mobility (or the lack thereof), border crises, and historical amnesia through projects that unearth individual narratives and collective experiences."[15]
  • She is the Visual Arts winner of the 2011 Alpert Award in the Arts.[16]
  • In 2018 she won the "Curator of the Young Artist of the Year" award.[17]

Major works[edit]

Memorial to 418 Palestinian Villages Destroyed, Depopulated, and Occupied by Israel in 1948 (2001)[edit]

Developed during her residency at P.S.1's National Studio Program, Jacir opened her studio to Palestinians, Israelis, Americans, Egyptians, Syrians, Yemenis, Spaniards and others to embroider a refugee tent with the names of Palestinian villages impacted by Israeli expansion.[18]

"Memorial to 418 Palestinian Villages is mobile and vulnerable—resisting any false appeals to closure. It is not a didactic monument, but a sensitive, painful testament to a desperate tragedy that needs to be addressed and aches to be mourned."[19]

Where We Come From (2001-2003)[edit]

Jacir, holder of an American passport, asked more than 30 Palestinians living both abroad and within the occupied territories: “If I could do anything for you, anywhere in Palestine, what would it be?” She collected responses and carried out tasks in an extended performance of wish-fulfilment by proxy, using her American passport to travel between territories, a privilege most Palestinians do not hold.[4] Some of the tasks included playing football, eating local foods, paying bills, visiting a grave, meeting relatives or loved ones, etc. The details of the series's display were deliberate: within a simple, black frame, parallel text in Arabic and English listed the exact request, described the requestor's current location and situation in regards to movement, their name, and finally, notes on the completion of the task. Adjacent to this frame were the accompanying photographs of the artist carrying out the task, unframed, and printed larger than the text panels.

This curatorial decision is explained through the idea that "viewers face a project that is first of all divided between text panels and photographs. But how to get from one to the other? The visual transition from language to image seems simple enough. A mere shift of the eyes will do... Yet it is just this translation, written out in clear language and then realized photographically, that for many is insurmountable... [it] represents an unbridgeable chasm, an impossibility on which a complex of desire is built."[20]

The documented result was shown in New York[21] to great critical acclaim; "Where We Come From is [Jacir's] best so far. An art of cool Conceptual surfaces and ardent, intimate gestures, intensely political and beyond polemic, it adds up to one of the most moving gallery exhibitions I've encountered this season."[22][23] Other reactions expressed "that her efforts resonated with the aspects of desire, fear and restricted movement."[24]

The work was acquired by San Francisco Museum of Modern Art,[25] which added an extra text to Jacirs work.[26]

Crossing Surda (2003)[edit]

"“Crossing Surda” (a record of going to and from work), exists because an Israeli soldier threatened me and put an M-16 into my temple. [Ms. Jacir says she was filming her feet with a video camera at a checkpoint that day.] If I had not had this direct threatening experience this piece would not exist."[27]

Accumulations (2005)[edit]

"Ms. Jacir's deft extrapolation of the issues of identity from the specifics of experience, like her renewal and extension of what might be called classic Conceptual Art, is enormously impressive."[29]

Material for a film (2005-ongoing)[edit]

"In Material for a Film (2005–ongoing) the displacement is total, as Jacir’s own identity is substituted for that of her subject, Wael Zuaiter, a Palestinian intellectual living in Rome who was assassinated in 1972 by Israeli agents, having been mistakenly identified as one of those responsible for the murder of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics in Munich. The installation gathers together photographs, books, music, letters, interviews, telegrams, copies of the Italian magazine Rivoluzione Palestinese to which Zuaiter contributed, even a clip from a Pink Panther film in which he had a small part, to flesh out a life no longer there."[25]

"Jacir is a quiet and mercurial art-world figure, less than a decade deep into her career, and her Boss show rejects the obvious opportunity presented for leverage, debutante-style, as a headliner on the New York art stage and in the media that starts here. In fact, the only character in sharp focus for this exhibition is Wael Zuaiter, a Palestinian intellectual killed by Israeli secret service agents following the murder of eleven Israeli athletes and a German police officer by the militant group Black September at the 1972 Munich Olympics."[30]

Howard Halle criticized the pieces in an article in Time Out New York, writing, "That such a crude, self-indulgent exercise has been given one of contemporary art’s most prestigious awards is unfortunate, though not, sadly, entirely unexpected."[31] Another critique by Ken Johnson of The New York Times said that, "If the ultimate point is to arouse humane concern for Palestinians in general, Ms. Jacir's work falls short."[32]

  • Emily Jacir: "Material for a film": Retracing Wael Zuaiter (Part 1),[33] installation in the 2007 La Biennale di Venezia
  • Emily Jacir: "Material for a film": A performance (Part 2),[34] 16 July 2007, The Electronic Intifada
    • Najwan Darwis: Emily Jacir’s Material for a Film: Ongoing homage and artistic revenge for Wa’el Zuaiter[35]

Retracing bus no. 23 on the historic Jerusalem-Hebron Road (2006)[edit]

  • Emily Jacir, Photostory: Retracing bus no. 23 on the historic Jerusalem-Hebron Road,[36] 15 December 2006, The Electronic Intifada[37]

stazione (2009)[edit]

In 2009, Jacir participated in the Venice Biennale in the Palestinian Pavilion. She created a site-specific public project to take place in Venice during the Biennale. The Venice City Authorities shut down Jacir's project and refused to allow it to take place.

"Significant by its absence at the Venice Biennale was Emily Jacir's contribution to the official off-site exhibition, 'Palestine c/o Venice'. Jacir's artwork, Stazione, would have seen all of the piers for the Route 1 water bus (the vaporetto that runs up and down the Grand Canal) display the stop location names in Arabic as well as the usual Italian. Mockups were made, the Biennale approved, the council approved and the vaporetto company that runs Route 1 approved. Then suddenly it didn't. Apparently the vaporetto company stopped the project, and all the artist could find out, second-hand, was that they had 'received pressure from an outside source to shut it down for political reasons'."[38]

"Emily Jacir’s stazione (2008 - 2009) is an unrealised intervention on the number 1 vaporetto (water bus) line, a main transport route along the Grand Canal beginning at Lido winding its way to Piazzale Roma, ferrying audiences from one Biennale exhibition to another, by inserting Arabic text supplementing the existing Italian names at vaporetti stops and thus making the route bilingual. In the artist’s explanation, the work references the numerous Arab influences and exchanges in the history of Venice, its architecture, manufacturing, shipping, and of course in the process of these activities, language - that Arabic words too have filtered into the Venetian dialect - ‘divan’, ‘damasco’, ‘gabella’, amongst others."[39]


Museums where her work has been shown:

The main gallery in the US that shows her work is Alexander and Bonin in NYC (212.367.7474)


International biennales which have featured her work:

Articles (partial list)[edit]


  • "Emily Jacir". Verlag Fur Moderne Kunst Nurnberg. 2008. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  • "Emily Jacir". O.K. Books. 2003. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  • Jacir, Emily (2008). A. Laidi-Hanieh (ed.). Some things I probably should not say and some things I should have said (fragments of a diary). Cercle d’Art, Paris.


  1. ^ Phaidon Editors (2019). Great women artists. Phaidon Press. p. 200. ISBN 978-0714878775. {{cite book}}: |last1= has generic name (help)
  2. ^ "Emily Jacir". Artspace. Retrieved 24 December 2019.
  3. ^ "Emily Jacir". www.guggenheim.org.
  4. ^ a b Great women artists. Morrill, Rebecca,, Wright, Karen, 1950 November 15-, Elderton, Louisa. London. 2 October 2019. ISBN 978-0-7148-7877-5. OCLC 1099690505.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  5. ^ "affiliations:Emily Jacir". Beirut Art Center. January 2010. Archived from the original on 24 October 2011. Retrieved 18 February 2012.
  6. ^ "2002 Palestine International Video Festival : About". 29 August 2007. Archived from the original on 27 January 2013.
  7. ^ Murphy, Maureen Clare (16 February 2007). "Palestinian Revolution Cinema Comes to NYC".
  8. ^ "2012 Grant". Archived from the original on 2013-02-15. Retrieved 2013-03-05.
  9. ^ "- Berlinale - Archive - Annual Archives - 2012 - Press Photos". www.berlinale.de.
  10. ^ . 20 May 2013 https://web.archive.org/web/20130520122232/http://www.romacinemafest.it/ecm/web/fcr/en/home/international-rome-film-festival/juries-and-awards/emily-jacir. Archived from the original on 20 May 2013. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  11. ^ "La Biennale di Venezia Golden Lions in 2007". Archived from the original on 2016-11-08. Retrieved 2009-03-16.
  12. ^ "Amoula il Majnoona: Leone d'oro ~ Golden Lion".
  13. ^ Maymanah Farhat; Palestinian Artist Emily Jacir Awarded Top Prize
  14. ^ "2007 Prince Claus Award, Emily Jacir, Palestine". Archived from the original on January 12, 2008. Retrieved Mar 21, 2019.
  15. ^ "Guggenheim Museum names Emily Jacir Winner of Seventh Biennial Hugo Boss Prize". Archived from the original on October 2, 2009. Retrieved Mar 21, 2019.
  16. ^ "2011 Alpert Award in the Arts". 15 May 2012. Archived from the original on 15 May 2012.
  17. ^ "Emily Jacir - Biography. Young Artist of the Year Award 2018". Universes in Universe. Retrieved 24 December 2019.
  18. ^ Emily Jacir: belongings | Works: 1998-2003. Austria: O.K Books 0/04. 2004. pp. 22–25. ISBN 3-85256-265-1.
  19. ^ Chiara Gelardin: Memories in exile Archived 2008-02-02 at the Wayback Machine, Columbia University
  20. ^ Demos, T. J. (2003). "Desire in Diaspora: Emily Jacir". Art Journal. 62 (4): 69–78. doi:10.2307/3558490. JSTOR 3558490.
  21. ^ "Where We Come From at Debs&Co".
  22. ^ Holland Cotter: ART IN REVIEW; Emily Jacir, May 9, 2003, The New York Times
  23. ^ Tom Vanderbilt, Emily Jacir - Openings, February 2004, ArtForum
  24. ^ "Emily Jacir's Where we come from & The power of her passport". Public Delivery. Retrieved 20 March 2020.
  25. ^ a b Kaelen Wilson-Goldie, Her dark materials Archived 2015-04-24 at the Wayback Machine, 10 July 2008, The National
  26. ^ Tyler Green: SFMOMA attached an unusual wall-text to a landmark Jacir, Where We Come From Archived 2009-01-26 at the Wayback Machine, Modern Art Notes, Jan. 22, 2009
  27. ^ Jacir in interview with Michael Z. Wise: Border Crossings Between Art and Life January 30, 2009, The New York Times
  28. ^ "FindArticles.com - CBSi". findarticles.com.
  29. ^ Roberta Smith: Emily Jacir -- 'Accumulations', Friday, March 25, 2005 The New York Times
  30. ^ Bones Beat: Emily Jacir at the Guggenheim March 19, 2009, Village Voice
  31. ^ Howard Halle (March 5–11, 2009). "Art review: "The Hugo Boss Prize 2008: Emily Jacir"". Time Out New York. Vol. Issue 701. Retrieved 2009-03-15.
  32. ^ Ken Johnson (February 13, 2009). "Material for a Palestinian's Life and Death". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-03-15.
  33. ^ matthew (9 July 2007). ""Material for a film": Retracing Wael Zuaiter (Part 1)".
  34. ^ matthew (8 July 2007). ""Material for a film": A performance (Part 2)".
  35. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-11-13. Retrieved 2009-03-16.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  36. ^ Murphy, Maureen Clare (15 December 2006). "Photostory: Retracing bus no. 23 on the historic Jerusalem-Hebron Road".
  37. ^ "Ei: Photostory: Retracing bus no. 23 on the historic Jerusalem-Hebron Road". Archived from the original on 2008-07-05. Retrieved 2008-01-28.
  38. ^ "FindArticles.com - CBSi". findarticles.com.
  39. ^ "arterimalaysia.com". www.arterimalaysia.com.
  40. ^ "Visual Art - Samer". 16 May 2008. Archived from the original on 16 May 2008.

External links[edit]