Qais Assali (b. Nablus 1987) is an artist raised in the United Arab Emirates before moving back to Palestine in 2000. He is currently an Artist-in-Residence for the Core Program at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Qais taught in visual communication at Al-Ummah University College in Jerusalem, and at An-Najah National University in Nablus. He was an Artist-in-Residence & Visiting Professor for the Critical Race Studies Program at Michigan State University 2018-19. Qais, bizarrely, holds four degrees in visual arts from Palestine and the United States, a BFA in Graphic Design from An-Najah National University 2009, and a BA in Contemporary Visual Art from the International Academy of Art Palestine 2017. He simultaneously completed an MFA in Photography from Bard College, New York 2019, and an MA in Art Education from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois 2018, where he currently lives and works.

CV is downloadable as a .pdf here.

I am an artist whose work centers on questions of site, staging relations between sites, whether between locations or between bodies, where one of the sites is always related to myself. I make a satire of an initial assumption of likeness. I start out with an existing superficial connection between sites based on a surface resemblance - a tenuous crossover related to a name, a language group, a resemblance in layout - one site is often a form of copy of the other. Through the dubious link to the original, the copy begins to ask questions of the status of the original. 
As a Palestinian artist, I seek to complicate historical hierarchies. I am the result of my generation, experiencing the entire Second Intifada and trying to frame or shape it in different way. By subverting notions of oppression and victimhood, these historical narratives fuel my passionate gaze toward the Middle East. My work shows how the case of Palestine is more broadly connected to the problems of the Arab world and the whole world and to see our historic relationship to colonization and imperialism. From there my work investigates truth vs. fiction, ambiguity vs. didacticism, fake/copy vs. original and appropriation vs. plagiarism.
My interdisciplinary art/design practice engages issues of time and memory, collective trauma, and diasporic doubling through investigations of historical events, the deconstruction of my role as author, and my own subject position. I use visual analogy, translation, substitution and appropriation strategies to rethink forms of communication architectures. 
By speaking through others, reading one location across another, or even to trans-create from one site to another. My work might be able to expose structural conditions of another location. But what kind of link I construct between locations? What does it matter who is speaking?

Using Format