In 2009, Khalil Rabah curated RIWAQ’s 3rd Biennale. In a radical shake-up of the Biennale concept, the program featured a series of journeys between fragmented and disparate locations across Palestine, reflecting the fractured territory of the region. Focusing on RIWAQ’s priority to protect and rehabilitate 50 historic centers across Palestine’s rural areas, these journeys were conceived as a series of networking activities between local and international artists and theorists, and provided opportunities for participants to develop ideas and artistic collaborations for the future.
The first part of the 3rd RIWAQ Biennale: A Geography: 50 Villages, featured the work of artist Khalil Rabah, Director of RIWAQ’s Biennale, as part of the art exhibition Palestine C/O Venice in the Venice 53rd Art Biennale. The exhibition ran from June through September 2009. Rabah’s work centered on RIWAQ as an institution, and specifically, the rehabilitation of RIWAQ’s 50 Villages Rehabilitation Project. Programming included a symposium, a reception in Venice, as well as an art installation and performance about the rehabilitation of the historic center of Birzeit.
The second part of the Biennale, which was held October 12-16-2009, took place in a number of venues, namely the historic center of Birzeit. Taken together, both portions of the Biennale convened local and international individuals, governmental and non-governmental institutions, donors, mayors and heads of village councils, relevant arts and cultural heritage institutions, universities, engineering and architectural syndicates, as well as the private sector, in order to raise the interest, the know-how, and the funds to support RIWAQ’s visionary work. Importantly, these activities laid the foundation for local and international artists and architects to collaborate and intervene in the public spaces that comprise RIWAQ’s 50 Villages Rehabilitation project.