DM CONTEMPORARY is delighted to present The Land that Remains, a solo exhibition of photographic works by Italian artist Federico Busonero shot while on assignment in the West Bank to document Palestinian cultural heritage for the UNESCO between 2008 and 2009. Busonero’s connection with the land and the people there resulted in a parallel body of work, which was published independently in a book by the same name. The seven large and fifteen smaller archival pigment prints making up this show capture the sense of a place that is suspended in time: weighed down by its past and paralyzed by the uncertainty of its future with the reality of the present approaching the surreal.
During three extensive photographic journeys throughout the occupied Palestinian territories of the West Bank, Busonero, with his traditional film camera, a Hasselblad, travelled alone along Route 60, the main North-South highway which connects most of the cities of the West Bank. The photographer rarely encountered people on this mostly deserted highway.
Here comes to mind US Route 66 and an image of the open road that has inspired generations of American writers, like Jack Kerouac – the vast expanse of highway and the freedom it beckons.
However, this highway symbolizes anything but freedom! Due to severe travel restrictions imposed on Palestinians, they are unable to have access to the highway connecting their own cities unless they have Israeli Army permits. Busonero was allowed access only because he was using a pass issued to him by the UN to facilitate his assignment.
Busonero’s critical eye, his demanding method and patience (such as visiting areas time and time again to develop an understanding of his subject, and waiting until the light was right), and his compassion, provide an opportunity to see a land in a way rarely seen before. Shedding light on villages and cities with extraordinary heritage, pastoral rolling hills, ancient olive groves, fertile valleys, sacred desert cemeteries, and vanishing archeological sites, the artist, who likes to describe himself as an ‘archeologist of the present’, uncovers not only what exists but what may have existed beyond the instant caught by his camera.
This exhibition offers the opportunity to look at a land and view a reality often ignored in the fog of political reporting.