Open the door to the Ayyam Gallery and you’ll come face to face with a wall – a huge, grey, apparently concrete slab which reaches high and wide. Looking along this barricade’s length, it’s unclear whether you can pass around it or whether you have to clamber through a small, jagged hole to reach the rest of the exhibition.
This is Palestinian artist Khaled Jarrar’s small-scale attempt to recreate the experience of living with the 700km-long, up-to-eight-metre-high Israeli-erected West Bank security barrier (also known as the ‘apartheid wall’, depending what side of the fence you’re on), which is studded with difficult-to-pass checkpoints and (metaphorically) battered by international criticism.
A football, a ping pong set and a discus cast in reconstituted concrete (which Jarrar has painstakingly and riskily chipped off the West Bank barrier) sit alongside video screens showing the artist playing a game of badminton over the wall – a comment on Palestinian children weighed down by military might, perhaps, or a symbol of innocence robbed.
It’s well-meaning, potentially rousing work, but the pieces crumble beneath their thematic weight. Even Jarrar’s wall is tangibly throwaway – give it a little knock, and it sounds hollow. Given the political and emotional depth of feeling that surrounds the Palestine/Israel conflict, the show could have offered a more profound response.