The first round of funding from the A.M. Qattan Foundation (AMQF)’s “Visual Arts: A Flourishing Field” (VAFF) Project has been awarded. VAFF aspires to achieve a more sustainable, vibrant and innovative visual arts field in Palestine. With funding from the Consulate General of Sweden, represented by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, the VAFF project is implemented by the AMQF’s Culture and Arts Program.

The VAFF project has provided a grant of $250,029 USD towards the establishment of the Sakiya Art/Science/Agriculture initiative in the village of Ein Qiniya. Sakiya is a community initiative co-founded by architect and curator Sahar Qawasmi and the artist, filmmaker, and ACT Assistant Professor Nida Sinnokrot. Through this grant, Sakiya will be inaugurated as a new art space that will integrate the visual arts, farming, archiving and the production of knowledge. A residency program will also be created for this venture – the first of its kind in Palestine.

Situated on a 16,000m2 plot of land in Ein Qiniya, the grant will contribute to renovating one of two buildings on the project site, both of which date back to 1917.

About the project
In search of an antidote to the neoliberal, alienating consumerist culture sweeping Palestine’s cities and the increasing number of disenfranchised youth in refugee camps and rural areas, Nida Sinnokrot along with architect Sahar Qawasmi, established Sakiya – Art/Science/Agriculture, an international, interdisciplinary residency program.

Sakiya’s mandate is to bridge fading local traditions of self-sufficiency with contemporary art and ecological practices within the framework of an interdisciplinary residency program. Marginalized cultural groups, such as farmers and small industry initiatives, will assume a prominent role alongside visiting and local artists and scholars, thus challenging the demographic divide that characterizes cultural consumption in Palestine. Sakiya’s sustainable village model engages in food production, renewable energies, summer school programs, art exhibitions, publications, and academic symposia.

The first phase of Sakiya was launched in 2016 during the Qalandiya International III Biennial, in partnership with the Khalil Sakakini Cultural Centre. As part of this initiative, Sakiya established a community Garden Laboratory with local agro-ecologist Saad Dagher to facilitate sustainable agricultural practices and botanical research; a Compost Centre made from modified cement mixers and serviced by local restaurants and residents; a Library Project set up as a regional, open source networked library featuring a custom built, portable BookScanner courtesy of Marcell Mars, in collaboration with Beth Stryker and Cairo’s Cluster Group’s PILOT library initiative; and an inter-city Moving Garden project by the Danish artist Anika Barkan. Framing these components, Sinnokrot curated Under the Tree – Taxonomy, Empire and Reclaiming the Commons, an academic roundtable discussion moderated by Dr. Shela Sheikh of Goldsmiths University of London, on the colonial legacies of botanical classification featuring the participation of local academics, artists, and farmers.

Sakiya’s second symposium Under The Tree II – Agriculture, Private Property and the Production of Ignorance will be held in the fall of 2018. Developed in collaboration with Dr. Shela and Beth Stryker, Under The Tree II asks what critical, legal, literary, and aesthetic tools might we employ in order to interrupt the growing ‘monoculture of knowledge’ advanced by global neoliberal capitalism? How do colonial constructions of knowledge relate to contemporary questions around access to resources (file-sharing, seed banks, agricultural commons) and the suppression of ‘ecological’ thinking? Faced with contemporary biopiracy and epistemicide, how might we conceive of alternative practices of piracy and the commons that ‘harvest’ not only knowledge but also memory and the imaginary?


More information: An Interview with Nida Sinnokrot at Visible Project.