The 5th Riwaq Biennale
May 19–June 16, 2015, 9pm daily
The 5th Riwaq Biennale
June 1, 2014–June 1, 2016
Al Sharafeh – Al Bireh
P. O. Box 212
Khalil Rabah, Artistic Director, Riwaq Biennale
Tirdad Zolghadr, Curator, 5th Riwaq Biennale
Carol Michael Quffa, Programme Coordinator, 5th Riwaq Biennale
Reem Shilleh, Project Coordinator, 5th Riwaq Biennale
You are sitting in a car. Not your own car. You actually have no idea whose car this is. All you know is that it was lovingly placed on the rooftop of a historic building, here in downtown Ramallah. And that you’ve been watching a 1970s Egyptian Western. A French political musical. An experimental program of artists’ film and video. The smell of popcorn fills the air, and the radio dial is a little buttery with your greasy fingerprints.
Cinema Sayyara! is a rooftop drive-in cinema by the artist Phil Collins, commissioned by the 5th Riwaq Biennale. It is the latest model of Collins’s Auto-Kino!, which was rolled out in Berlin five years ago. The new film program for Ramallah has been collectively selected by artists, and filmmakers whom Collins invited as guest programmers, as well as by residents of the Beit Saa neighborhood.
The project runs only for four weeks and offers a maximum of 21 seats per night. But if you live nearby, you can watch the program from the street, your balcony or your favorite cafe by using a standard 98.9 FM frequency to tune into the soundtrack on the radio.
Cinema Sayyara! thinks through existing structures in order to produce new forms of public display, and to create new audiences in the process. Its host venue, Beit Saa, is a 1910 edifice newly renovated by Riwaq. Eventually, Beit Saa is planned to join the ranks of the many “museums” in Palestine. But instead of a homage to the past, in the name of some faraway future, Cinema Sayyara! proposes a celebration of the here and now. It suggests that contemporary art, architectural conservation and cultural policy need not be in conflict with dynamic local engagements. And it is ready to spark a sense of curiosity, enthusiasm and collective ownership, within the neighborhood and beyond.
The films have been selected by the friends & families of the neighborhood Islamic Youth Club, artists Emily Jacir, Oraib Toukan & Ala Younis, Subversive Films artist collective, filmmakers Peggy Ahwesh, Casey Asprooth Jackson and Khadijeh Habashneh, Idioms Film production house, curators Rasha Salti and Tirdad Zolghadr, and Phil Collins & Siniša Mitrović of Shady Lane Productions.
Image: Riwaq Biennale Palestine presents Cinema Sayyara, Beit Saa, downtown Ramallah, behind Ramallah Museum. © Riwaq, 2015