Palestinian artist Khalil Rabah’s absurdist creations are reactions to the harshness and tragic absurdity of everyday life in the phantom state of Palestine, where a fragmented community has for decades lived in a continued state of siege. Through elaborate fictional scenarios that he creates, Rabah seeks to produce parallel narratives for a people and a nation whose history has been consumed by the ceaseless conflict with Israel.
His projects include United States of Palestine Airlines —a fictional airline that points to travel restrictions that restrict Palestinians from accessing the rest of the world except via Jordan and Egypt— and The Palestinian Museum of Natural History and Humankind (2003–ungoing), a portable institution that is presented to audiences through an enthusiastic monthly newsletter detailing its various activities aimed at documenting Palestinian flora, fauna and other artifacts.
Biproduct (2010) is a multimedia project by Rabah, a part of which is presented at the Biennale. The print on display shows an aircraft carrier in the shape of Gaza strip that Rabah conceptualised. On the deck of the ship are farms producing tomatoes and strawberries to be made into strawberry jam and tomato paste by a factory on the ship. If the image of the aircraft carrier reminds one of frequent US interventions and posturing in the Middle East, the hyper mobility of this farm-factory stands in stark contrast to Gaza strip where restrictions imposed by Israel curtail the export of agricultural produce, including strawberries and cherry tomatoes, to markets outside the strip.