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Story of success from Palestine: Nidaa Badwan and her art

Thursday, 06 July 2017 15:29
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by Melania Malomo (EPOS)
EPOS Insights


Born in 1987 in Abu Dhabi, Nidaa Badwan used to live in the southern Deir al-Balah district of Gaza since she was 11 and to paint since she was 6. She studied Fine Arts at Al-Aqsa University and she showed her colorful paintings for the very first time a year before the graduation (2009), in the ruins of the Red Crescent in Gaza. The strong presence of blue and red in her works are referred to the everyday living conditions of refugees: the red stands for the Red Crescent and the blue for the UNRWA, the UN specialized office for Palestinian Refugees. It is strongly related to the three weeks war between Hamas and Israel, fought in Gaza very few before the exhibition.

The concept of her pieces of art was born in 2013: Nidaa was harassed by Hamas police because she was wearing unusual "eccentric" clothes, not Arab-like and she had no veil but only a wool-like hat. She said they hit her and, after this episode, she decided to lock herself in her bedroom because she did not want to see anymore what Gaza has become, the war and the ugly. She painted a wall in sea blue and covered the other one with coloured egg cartons, in order to isolate the noise from the outside. It was very hard, for the first two months: she cried every day, lying on the floor and trying to pick herself up with anxiety pills with no results. She even thought to kill herself. Her mother used to leave in front of her doors something to eat and something to do, like make a salad or cut the onions, while her autistic brother used to draw portraits for her. Little by little, she started to love to be isolated. Like when she was a child, she has created her own city, her own world in which she can be surrounded by beauty or whatever she choose to look at. She transformed her bedroom with only a window in her own world and in her own self-imposed prison, a contradiction from what she extrapolated art. So, she started to use her camera in order to capture moments of her isolation and to portray her everyday life in her 10 metres “sanctuary”. In a photo she is simply slapping a typewriter, in another one she is painting, or stitching, or playing. She made a powerful use of the light that came into his room through a window, every photo is a game of light and dark for which her spent a lot of days in order to achieve the image that she had in her mind. Then she posted them on Internet.

For 20 months Nidaa never left her home but something was changing: Antony Bruno, director of the Institut Français de Jerusalem, looked at her photos and found them so strong and very powerful that he decided to organize an exhibition, named “One Hundred Days of Solitude” (even if Nidaa’s isolation was much longer). He found Nidaa’s works great because they are a story of survival in which the war is not portrayed but still present in the outside of her room, she tries to transcend that.

The exhibition opened in November 2014, at Al Hoash Gallery in Jerusalem, and she was ready to break the isolation and go outside to join her friends and fans at the exhibition opening but she was unable to do that because Israeli authorities denied her to travel outside Gaza. So she went into a hotel in Gaza and joined the event via Skype but, at some point, there was no more electricity, no events. The same story happened in her house.

Finally, in 2015 the artist was able to leave Gaza and pass through the Wall in which she and other Palestinians are closed. She was invited in Italy, in Montecatini Terme (Pistoia) in order to expose for the first time her complete work in Europe and then she moved to Montecatini Terme and joined the project “The Town of Free Arts” in which she tried to explain through her experience what does it means to be a young lady in Gaza and what is isolation.

In Italy she find her home, her comfortable place: she found a place in San Marino, “the land of freedom”, in which she collaborated with the University of Design. Since 2016, she has been travelling in Europe: her works were exposed in some prestigious international museums, like Trepholt Museum in Kolding (Denmark), SAVVY Contemporary in Berlin (Germany), Couthures-sur-Garonne (France), and then she landed the USA where her photos were shown in the Postaster Gallery, New York.

Her latest project is named “Autism”, a series of paintings inspired by the portraits of her autistic brother, Abood. These were the drawings that her brother used to give to her when she was in isolation, in order to make her stop crying. Since 2017, Nidaa inaugurated two exhibitions in Ravenna and in Forte dei Marmi and she was a speaker in the UNESCO conference “Cultural heritage and identity: an Arab youth perspective” that took place in Tunisia. Now  Monte Grimano Terme, Italy, granted Nidaa with a space for herself in the historical center of this little town, a studio-atelier where the artist will work on new project and propose artistic activities for the community.

Her dream is to open a gallery, maybe in Gaza, in which all the artists that are forced to fight in order to do their arts can be free to express their own way to art and beauty, simply like it should be.


DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect EPOS WorldView’s editorial policy

Last modified on Thursday, 06 July 2017 15:42
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