Taysir Batniji

La Galerie, Centre d’art contemporain de Noisy-le-Sec

“I am against boys becoming heroes at ten / Against the tree flowering explosives / Against branches becoming scaffolds / Against rose-beds turning into trenches / Against it all / And yet / When fire consumes my friends, my youth, my country / How can I stop a poem from becoming a gun?” Taysir Batniji’s exhibition reminded me of these verses by the Palestinian poet Rashid Hussein. Notwithstanding their timeliness, they date from the mid-’70s, when Hussein was living in exile in New York. Batniji, who was born in Gaza City in 1966, six months before the beginning of the Israeli military occupation, could have been one of those ten-vear-olds. But at that age, he recalls, he had already discovered the magic of drawing and the mental territory of art.

Twenty-five years later, with the same ironic incongruity that underlies Hussein’s poetic imagery, the visual poet that Batniji has become titled

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