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I was a thing (the poet objects) with Mosab Abu Toha, 2018, poet object and plinth, in Passion for Freedom Fest 2018, London

as seen in 10th anniversary Passion for Freedom Festival 2018, Royal Opera Arcade Gallery, London. From 1-12 October 2018.

Kelise Franclemont and Mosab Abu Toha, ‘I was a thing (the poet objects)’, 2018, poet object and plinth, in Passion for Freedom Festival 2018, London. Photo credit Kelise Franclemont.

A mysterious black cube-shaped poet-object slowly extrudes a long strip of paper that gathers in a growing pile. The text contains poems, one-line reports, and other thoughts by Mosab Abu Toha, a poet in Gaza. Every now and then, another few lines of text come out as Abu Toha shares his poetry and prose with UK viewers real-time via the Internet, even while remaining entrapped in Gaza City, presuming of course, electricity supply is available to his neighbourhood.


About

“I was a thing” is collaborative effort between British-American artist Kelise Franclemont and Gazan poet Mosab Abu Toha.

Mosab Abu Toha is an author, English teacher, and founder/director of the Library and Bookshop for Gaza, a project which gained international support through a humble crowd-funding appeal, resulting in a growing library of English, Arabic, and other volumes made available to the Gazan public. Along with the hundreds of books and periodicals, Abu Toha and his small staff offer a range of English classes, creative writing and literature clubs, and other activities.

Kelise Franclemont is a visual storyteller offering objects or experiences about remembering and identity, often considering the immutable line between Other and Self. In the making, she will often appropriate materials, objects, or other more ephemeral cultural artefacts such as ritual, using documentary tactics to remake these artefacts into a new narrative, or into a newly-contrived situation based on some truth, allowing the viewer to discover truths of his or her own.

Links

  • About Passion for Freedom Festival 2018 – 10th anniversary festival, exhibition, and awards event “…dedicated to shared values of free expression, and the power of art to inspire, awaken and shake the world”. From 1st – 12th October 2018.Click to view/download more info:
      
  • About Library for GazaSince 2017, offering  “…a safe space for people to meet and exchange ideas and experiences [with] books lending, reading section, study halls, meeting room, children’s activities, along with seminars and organised lectures delivered by international guests…” 

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‘Salat ul-Istisqa’a [Prayer for Rain]’, 2017, installation of hologram and sound

Kelise Franclemont, ‘Salat ul-Istisqa’a [Prayer for Rain]’, 2017, copper, acrylic, and sound, in ‘Water Stations’ at Emmanuel Church, West Hampstead, London. Image courtesy the artist.
When water is scarce, an ancient Bedouin tradition calls the faithful to beseech God for healing rains. This Islamic ritual is known as “Salat ul-Istisqa’a”, rising to heaven one drop at a time.

“Salat ul-Istisqa’a [Prayer for Rain]” is a response to the number of documentaries from 2013-2016 about the irreversible water crisis in Gaza. 2020 is rapidly approaching, the year when experts fear that the fresh water supply in the region’s underground aquifers will be damaged beyond repair. Even now, experts fear the worst has already happened as ordinary people who live, work, and raise families within view of the Mediterranean, are dying of thirst.

Gazan resident Awatef Al Afifi complains with evident frustration, “This water is unsuitable for [washing] hair, or for showering children or adults. Or washing your face.”
“This [water] is diseased,” she gestures, “we can’t drink it or use it for cooking.”
Throwing her hands up again, “It’s not safe,” she exclaims, “we can’t use it for anything, wa laa ishi [not anything].”
In another part of Gaza lives another family, 100 meters from the sea shore. Equally frustrated, Um Adham Bakr states matter-of-factly, “Saline water is harmful for the children; they become sick. The last time I stayed about 6 days in hospital with my eldest son. The doctors tell me that he had something more dangerous than meningitis; he was taken to the intensive care unit. Blisters had appeared on his body, blisters that were mainly caused by salt water. As you can see, the water is salty and their hair has been damaged. The boys have undergone several surgeries and rashes appear all over their bodies.” And resignedly,
“There’s nothing to do. We are tired of this.”

“Salat ul-Istisqa’a [Prayer for Rain]” is part of “Water Stations” an exhibition in which seven artists convene to honour World Water Day with sculpture, installation, film, and painting, at Emmanuel Church in West Hampstead from 19th through 31st March 2017.

Click the thumbnail to view/download more info:
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Duo show ‘Fragments and Traces’ about time, memory, and travel – Platform 1 Gallery, Wandsworth Arts Fringe

Fragments and Traces: l’invitation au voyage

Kelise Franclemont and Antonia Jackson  explore memory, travel, and passage of time through paintings, installation, and new media. Throughout each day, along with the exhibition of artworks, Antonia and Kelise will engage visitors in trading memories and creating new ones in an ongoing make-one/take-one souvenir postcard exchange.

Fragments and Traces: l’invitation au voyage” is in conjunction with Wandsworth Arts Fringe 2016, a festival of creativity and performance throughout the borough from 6 to 22 May 2016.

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One subsequent weekends at Platform 1 Gallery are two more shows:  “Transcending” from artist Ema Mano Epps with Verica Kovacevska and Norman Mine, and finally, “Fragment” by sculptor Anna Flemming.

Click the flyer below to see more details:


More links about “Fragments and Traces”

Event details: Fragments and Traces” presents during Wandsworth Arts Fringe 2016 from 5 to 8 May 2016  at Platform 1 Gallery on Wandsworth Common Station, Platform 1, Wandsworth Common, London SW12 8SG (entrance to the station and Platform 1 Gallery from Jaggard Way). Free admission, step-free access.

Private View: Thursday 5 May, 5:30 to 8:30 pm

Opening hours:

Friday 6 May, 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm
Saturday 7 May, 11:oo am to 5:00 pm
Sunday 8 May, 11:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Platform1Gallery_logo2   WandsworthFringe_logo

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‘The Promised Land (in amazing stereoscopic vision)’, 2016, digital video and stereoscopic goggles

Kelise Franclemont, 'The Promised Land', 2016, HD digital video on iPad with stereoscopic goggles and sound, duration 1:40 (looped). Image courtesy the artist.
Kelise Franclemont, ‘The Promised Land’, 2016, HD digital video on iPad with stereoscopic goggles and sound, duration 1:40 (looped). Image courtesy the artist.

The “Promised Land”, the land of milk and honey, the place where all good things will come to the chosen people and the true believers. In London, the “Promised Land” is not just for immigrants and dreamers, those who aspire to wealth and privilege that can be had in the capital, London is already here for the posh and the prosperous. This great golden city belongs to the movers and the shakers, the 1% who can afford to live in high-rise flats and work in their downtown shiny offices.

Not everyone is so lucky in the lottery of birth and not everybody finds the better life they seek when they get to “The Promised Land” they keep hearing about from their parents, friends, and politicians, tales that have been told since the Industrial Age…the sounds of building a high-rise contrasts starkly with the images in a different story of broken promises, dead-ends, and forgotten dreams.

Kelise Franclemont, ‘The Promised Land’, 2016, HD digital video on iPad with stereoscopic goggles and sound, duration 1:40 (looped) – EXCERPT

If the video does not auto-play, please click here.


‘The Promised Land’ was recently exhibited in ‘Fast Forward/Rewind’ – Chelsea Alumni Summer Show 2016 at Punctum Gallery, Chelsea College of Arts, from 18-22 July 2016.

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‘Postcards’ selected for ‘Identity’ group exhibition with AWAH, Manchester

 “Postcards from the Land of No People (wish you were here)”, 2015, printed postcards in a wooden rack  

A contemporary Orientalist sees herself in Palestine through a series of souvenir postcards… whether or not she belongs or is welcome there…

This piece is about how memory and identity intermingle and become truth for the author of that history. A series of found images dated from late 1890s are appropriated from the US Library of Congress “Holy Land” archives and the artist inserts herself into the image attempting to become an integral part of the narrative by almost any means possible. This can be a metaphor for personal history, the artist having once been immersed in all things Palestinian by marriage or the images could point to some vague but potent longing to belong to the exotic “Other” culture, even for just a moment as a tourist to some foreign land. There is an element of humour here, with the artist fully aware of the “square peg, round hole” issues at play here and the absurdity of a certain tone of Colonialism that tries to overwrite history, yet there is no lacking in sincerity for the love of this corner of the Earth once known as the “Land of No People”.

On the reverse of each card is written a message from the artist to “My darling” (a lover? a family member? a friend?), with the sentiment, “wish you were here!” along with a short message to share the experience with the postcard recipient.

To see this and the many other works in “Identity” (21 January to 13 March 2016), head to Manchester to Art with a Heart [AWAH], a charity arts organisation in nearby Altrincham.

Founded in 2012, AWAH is a charity that comprises of 4-5 small exhibition galleries, hosting workshops, exhibitions, charitable events, and volunteering opportunities aimed at supporting the arts and creative communities, as well as promoting Altrincham heritage and history.

If you’re in the area, have a look in!

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‘A walk through Palestine’ installation included in ‘Ruins of Time’ exhibition – The Crypt Gallery, St Pancras, London

This small stone was once part of pleasing mathematics in tessellated patterns… a fan, a leaf, a flower. It remained in that belonging for nearly 2000 years until one day, it was dislocated from its home. In this instant, this fragment was transformed from artefact into another kind of ruin. A relic, this souvenir now belongs to no more than a memory, a resurrected existence in minutes and megabytes, and thus has become something much easier to destroy and to forget.

If you missed seeing “Ruins of Time” at The Crypt Gallery in St Pancras, click the link to walk through the virtual tour herehttps://vimeo.com/154992121 [Vimeo, duration 13:02 minutes]. My work appears at 4:45.

Kelise Franclemont, detail ‘A Walk through Palestine’, 2015, iPhone and video, duration 10:00mins (looped)

More links and information

RuinsofTime_e-flyer

  • You can see “A Walk through Palestine” in the upcoming “Ruins of Time” exhibition at The Crypt Gallery, St Pancras, London – 25 through 30 November 2015 – In the first project by London Munich Exchange [LME], 13 British and German artists descend into The Crypt beneath St Pancras to stage “Ruins of Time”, an exhibition of contemporary art that explores “time and its specific expression in the architecture of the site”.
  • A Walk through Palestine” was first exhibited in the MA Fine Art Summer Show 2015 at Chelsea College of Arts, London – 4 through 12 September 2015 – Helena Anderson from Candid Arts Magazine writes, “Some artists whose work stood out among the crowd were Kelise Franclemont, whose video, sound, and found object installation ‘a walk through Palestine (collectable, artefact, relic, souvenir)’ raised important questions of historical accuracy, the ethics of tourism, and cultural heritage”
  • Find out more about “Ruins of Time” exhibition at The Crypt Gallery on their official website
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‘A Walk through Palestine (collectable, artefact, relic, souvenir)’, 2015, installation

This small stone was once part of pleasing mathematics in tessellated patterns… a fan, a leaf, a flower. It remained in that belonging for nearly 2000 years until one day, it was dislocated from its home. In this instant, this fragment was transformed from artefact into another kind of ruin. A relic, this souvenir now belongs to no more than a memory, a resurrected existence in minutes and megabytes, and thus has become something much easier to destroy and to forget.

Even the photos we take on our smartphones, stolen memories are remade to suit our own histories.

As seen in:  

MA Fine Art Postgraduate Summer Show 2015

at Chelsea College of Arts, London

Chelsea_MA_Show_e-flyer

More links and info about the MA Fine Art Summer Show

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‘Memoirs of a stone (part 1 – the flight from Hyrcania)’, 2015, installation and found items, in ‘Housed’ at Chelsea College of Arts, London

17 Chelsea MA students (12 MA Fine Art, 5 MA Curating & Collections) enter into a week-long cooperative exhibition in which the curators, who see the show for the first time mid-week, will reconsider curation and transform the space. The project is an experiment which aims to “…challenge the ‘occupancy’ inside the regimented frameworks” such as may be found in the academic or gallery setting. From 7-10 April 2015 at Chelsea College of Arts.

Read more about ‘Housed’ on kelise72.com

Re-examining the relation between artist and curator

The basis of Housed: was about the relation (some might say “hierarchy”?) between artist and curator, firstly in a gallery/exhibition setting, secondly in academia. In the first half of the week, the dozen artists installed the show, collaboratively of course, installing their work with consideration for the siting as well as “conversations” between the nearby pieces.

Learn more about the project and how it evolved on the ‘Housed’ blog

My proposed work, ‘memoirs of a stone (Part I – The flight from Hyrcania)’ was an installation of drawings on paper, a short looping film with sound, and several found objects, most importantly, a small piece of red shale about 1 cm big.

In the first part of week, a writing desk was situated in the doorway, a small intimate space which may inspire quiet reflection as the viewer may pause and read or handle the drawings. Further along in the exhibition in the next room, one might come across the small red stone on a black velvet jewel block, positioned on the floor.

Mid-way through the week, the curators came into the project with a fresh perspective to re-hang the work, possibly creating new conversations and altering the “flow” of the exhibition overall.

‘Memoirs of a stone’ was relocated to another room entirely, which somehow “opened up” the work in a positive way. The little stone, placed next to Paul Abbott’s work (the video/busts on plinths – left image) somehow crystallised for both works the reference to Greco-Roman era, with busts on plinths and the Roman-era mosaic tile. Then the writing desk, even though in a more open space, still allowed for intimacy placed in the corner, adjacent to a large airy window.

For many of the artists, the re-curation improved the flow and openness for the exhibition overall, and opened up each work to have more “breathing space”, a marked positive change. If nothing else, the project allowed for a different way to see and experience the works in this very successful week.

Read more about Housed:

Chelsea_UAL_logo

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‘Postcards from The Land of No People’, 2015, printed postcards in a wooden rack

A contemporary Orientalist sees herself in Palestine in a series of souvenir postcards… whether or not she belongs or is welcome there…
Because isn’t this what we all do, when we travel to an exotic place, proudly saying “please” and “thank you” in exactly the correct pronunciation of an Other tongue, imagining ourselves for a moment, in asking for the bill, to be mistaken for a native…

while the server, laughing behind his or her eyes, sees right through your identity to a colonial past that is, along with your fantasy, part author to this current moment. Nodding and smiling and complimenting your excellent Arabic, which you both know is harnessed to expectations of generosity, which you gladly bestow for recognition of being seen as you wish to be seen. All of us pretending in this business transaction, an exchange until all accounts are empty.

MA Fine Art Interim Show
Chelsea College of Arts, London
 
22 January 2015
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Right to Movement Rat Race – Office Party Marathon

Kelise Franclemont, documentation of performance, 'Right to Movement Rat Race - Office Party Marathon', 2014, performance, duration varies. Pictured (l-r): Adam Zoltowski, Kelise Franclemont, Jonathan Slaughter. Image courtesy the artist. Photo credit Thomas Butler.
Kelise Franclemont, documentation of performance, ‘Right to Movement Rat Race – Office Party Marathon’, 2014, performance, duration varies. Pictured (l-r): Adam Zoltowski, Kelise Franclemont, Jonathan Slaughter. Image courtesy the artist. Photo credit Thomas Butler.

A group of runners will pace around and around and around this uncommonly short course (of approximately 330m) in order to make up the marathon distance of 42K. Some people sign up for runs like this for the challenge, or to achieve a particular fitness goal; others have nothing better to do on a Sunday afternoon.

“Making the mundane tolerable”

What else happens besides work in the workplace? Outside the norm when the conventions of behaviour are relaxed for a while. A ritual that acts as a pressure valve. Making the mundane tolerable.

— Adam Zoltowski, artist and curator of “Office Party” (12 Nov – 5 Dec 2014)

This particular race is a response to the site itself…a circular office would be a perfect (and perfectly ridiculous) race track demonstrating and documenting (thru video and still image), the silliness that is running for 4-6 hours at a time (marathon runners have to be a bit mad no?) as well as the silliness that is containing this 42km in a 350 metre track (130 laps, give or take)…

Kelise Franclemont, documentation of performance, 'Right to Movement Rat Race - Office Party Marathon', 2014, performance, duration varies. Pictured (l-r): Kelise Franclemont, Jonathan Slaughter. Image courtesy the artist. Photo credit Thomas Butler.
Kelise Franclemont, documentation of performance, ‘Right to Movement Rat Race – Office Party Marathon’, 2014, performance, duration varies. Pictured (l-r): Kelise Franclemont, Jonathan Slaughter. Image courtesy the artist. Photo credit Thomas Butler.

A number of people from the Right to Movement running club have been invited to participate, as a sort of preparation for the upcoming Palestine Marathon in Bethlehem, which sees runners going around a necessarily abbreviated course multiple times because an enormous concrete wall prevents a single circuitous route of 42K.

Kelise Franclemont, documentation of performance, 'Right to Movement Rat Race - Office Party Marathon', 2014, performance, duration varies. Image courtesy the artist. Photo credit Thomas Butler.
Kelise Franclemont, documentation of performance, ‘Right to Movement Rat Race – Office Party Marathon’, 2014, performance, duration varies. Image courtesy the artist. Photo credit Thomas Butler.

At the same time, this race would be reminiscent of “the rat race” that this office space once embodied; the endless cycle of getting up, going to work, “making a living”, coming home, sleep, get up again next day, and start again. Over and over. Another kind of madness…

Kelise Franclemont, documentation of performance, 'Right to Movement Rat Race - Office Party Marathon', 2014, performance, duration varies. Pictured (l-r): Adam Zoltowski, Kelise Franclemont. Image courtesy the artist. Photo credit Thomas Butler.
Kelise Franclemont, documentation of performance, ‘Right to Movement Rat Race – Office Party Marathon’, 2014, performance, duration varies. Pictured (l-r): Adam Zoltowski, Kelise Franclemont. Image courtesy the artist. Photo credit Thomas Butler.

Suddenly this race becomes an experiment in the subjectivity of time and place…there will be no markers along the course to indicate distance, nor will there be a race clock, leaving the runner to decide:  when is enough, enough.

What was the point of this “good cause” marathon, we all wondered… a race in which we clamour for attention, look at me doing good things, yet at the end, almost no one would bear witness but the runners themselves? An expression of the artist trying once again to be noticed, to be seen as working hard, striving determinedly to be recognised for her passionate sincere goodwill… soon easily forgotten as a near-nothingness. All that hard work for nothing changed at all. Isn’t that what much of activism feels like, a rush of runner’s high followed by numbness and forgetting as soon as a shiny new start-line banner is unfurled, and the next race is called.

Kelise Franclemont, documentation of performance, 'Right to Movement Rat Race - Office Party Marathon', 2014, performance, duration varies. Pictured (l-r): Adam Zoltowski, Nalini Thapen. Image courtesy the artist. Photo credit Thomas Butler.
Kelise Franclemont, documentation of performance, ‘Right to Movement Rat Race – Office Party Marathon’, 2014, performance, duration varies. Pictured (l-r): Adam Zoltowski, Nalini Thapen. Image courtesy the artist. Photo credit Thomas Butler.

More Links and info about Office Party

Exhibition details:  “Office Sessions III” is at Anchorage House, 2 Clove Crescent, E14 2BE (East India on the DLR).

“Office Sessions III” is open to the public on all three floors (4-6) on the following dates:

  • 27 November 2014:  6:30 PM – 10:00 PM
  • 29 November 2014:  11:00 AM – 3:00 PM
  • 30 November 2014:  11:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Please note there is also a performance piece by Kelise Franclemont scheduled on this date from 11AM, “Right to Movement Rat Race (an exercise in subjectivity and space)”, so look out for the marathon runners (and maybe stick around to cheer them on)!

  • 5 December 2014:  6:30 PM til late
Kelise Franclemont, documentation of performance, 'Right to Movement Rat Race - Office Party Marathon', 2014, performance, duration varies. Pictured (l-r): Jonathan Slaughter, Kelise Franclemont, Robin, Nalini Thapen. Image courtesy the artist. Photo credit Thomas Butler.
Kelise Franclemont, documentation of performance, ‘Right to Movement Rat Race – Office Party Marathon’, 2014, performance, duration varies. Pictured (l-r): Jonathan Slaughter, Kelise Franclemont, Robin, Nalini Thapen. Image courtesy the artist. Photo credit Thomas Butler.
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‘arabic coffee’, 2014, performance and installation

Kelise Franclemont, 'arabic coffee', 2014, performance and installation in 'Collaborationem' at St Saviour's Church, Pimlico, London. Image courtesy the artist. Photo credit Tom Butler.
Kelise Franclemont, ‘arabic coffee’, 2014, performance and installation in ‘Collaborationem’ at St Saviour’s Church, Pimlico, London. Image courtesy the artist. Photo credit Tom Butler.

The centuries-old coffee ritual is a custom of deep cultural significance, where this rich dark drink, often served with dried dates or other sweetmeats, is a traditional gesture of warm welcome offered to all guests who happen by. An old Middle Eastern proverb goes something like, “A single cup of coffee creates a friendship that lasts for 40 years”.

My first taste of Arabic coffee was nearly 25 years ago, by the hand of a Palestinian woman who is also my friend. What fond memories I have of the many enjoyable hours accompanied by these tiny cups, and not long after that first afternoon, how proud I was to serve from my own ibrik, a very tasty and authentic “qahweh arabiya” to make my Palestinian husband feel right at home.

It’s many years later, and those friends are miles away in a time that was decades ago; nonetheless, they are never far from mind and even now, I often crave this delicious drink, stirred with so many memories.

In ‘arabic coffee’, I have appropriated this beautiful act of hospitality again as my own, in order to explore an aspect of my personal identity as I create a moment that is enriched by sharing in which I invite guests to share a cup of coffee and a conversation with me, making memories with new friends and old.

‘arabic coffee’ is part of ‘Collaborationem’, a group exhibition at St Saviour’s Church, Pimlico, from 3-6 July 2014.

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‘taxi driver dialogue, on highway 1, halfway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv’, installation for BA Summer Show 2013

From ‘Taxi Driver Dialogue’, 2013, audio and installation, 30 minutes, in 2013 BA Summer Show at Chelsea College of Arts, London. Image courtesy Kelise Franclemont.
From ‘Taxi Driver Dialogue’, 2013, audio and installation, 30 minutes, in 2013 BA Summer Show at Chelsea College of Arts, London. Image courtesy Kelise Franclemont.

‘taxi driver dialogue, on Highway 1 halfway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv’

2013, installation and digital audio with subtitles, duration 00:30:00 minutes

The listener becomes the conveyor of an unlikely conversation between two taxi drivers that starts and ends somewhere between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and back again.

Watch an excerpt on Vimeo (with subtitles): Chapter 1: Borders and Checkpoints

More links and information about ‘taxi driver dialogue’:

 

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‘broken window’ charcoal-drawn animation is part of 2013 BA grad show – Wimbledon College of Art

Kelise Franclemont, ‘broken window’, 2013, charcoal-drawn digital animation, duration 00:00:22s (looped)

A brief memory of a broken window in Nablus, Palestine. What can be broken, what can be fixed, neither remains.

More links and information about ‘broken window’