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Young Palestinian artist explores intimate spaces in new art exhibit

Aug. 16, 2016 9:28 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 19, 2016 6:46 P.M.)
Artwork by Rana Samara from her new exhibit "Intimate Space"
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- A young Palestinian artist held her first exhibition in Ramallah on Tuesday, called “Intimate Space,” which explores sexuality in Palestinian societies through large-scale paintings.

Rana Samara, born in Jerusalem, focuses her work on exploring subtle expressions of Palestinian sexuality. A press release described her art pieces as initially seeming to portray “typical domestic scenes, but on closer inspection small details become large clues -- lingerie peeks out from beneath rumpled sheets, belts hang from the bedstead, a half used pack of Viagra lingers -- these telling signs provide a narrative for the foregone ‘crime’ or proscribed act.”

Samara described her inspiration for the project after visiting the al-Amari refugee camp in Ramallah: “I began wondering about the sex life of couples living in such condensed spaces that affords them almost no privacy. This privacy is especially difficult to achieve considering the large size of most Palestinian families and the cramped proximity in which neighbors and families live with each other.”
Artwork by Rana Samara from her new exhibit "Intimate Space."
According to the press release, “virginity, intimacy, sexual desire, gender, social norms -- these subjects are so pertinent in both the female realm and the society at large but they are often hidden, unexplored or even dismissed at an artistic level in the context of a nation still struggling under years of military occupation.”

Her work primarily reflects the social reality of Palestinian woman she speaks to about their intimate lives, highlighting that these conversations “form the cornerstone” of her artwork.

Samara graduated in 2015 from the International Academy of Art in Ramallah and was accepted in an MA program in Fine Art and Theory at Northwestern University in Chicago.
Artwork by Rana Samara from her new exhibit "Intimate Space"

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