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25 Jun 2019

International guest artists at Villa Romana 2019
Essa Grayeb, Jonatan Benjamin Boyadgian, Heja Türk

A cooperation between the Villa Romana and the Palestinian Al Ma'mal Foundation will result in the first artist exchange between Jerusalem and Florence in 2019 /2020. This year Villa Romana will welcome the two Palestinian artists Essa Grayeb and Jonatan Benjamin Boyadgian for two months each. In 2020, two Villa Romana Fellows 2018 - Jeewi Lee and Viron Erol Vert - will travel to Jerusalem for a few weeks.

The Al Ma'mal Foundation is a non-profit initiative and was established in the Old City of Jerusalem in 1998. Like Villa Romana it operates as an artist's residence and provides a contemporary programme for the public. Director of the Al Ma'mal Foundation is the internationally renowned curator Jack Persekian.


Essa Grayeb (born 1984 in Lower Galilee) works with photography, video, text and installation. In his works he deals with topics such as reproduction and reenactment, absence and loss. They are often the result of investigations of his own narratives within collective history and memory. He is currently working on a commentary on the popular film industry. In 2018, he was involved in The Jerusalem show IX at Al Ma'mal Foundation. Essa Grayeb lives in Jerusalem, where he teaches at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design and will be a guest at Villa Romana in July and August.

Jonatan Benjamin Boyadgian (born 1983 in Jerusalem) studied architecture and wrote his Master's thesis entitled Contemporary habitat and urban expansion in Bethlehem, Palestine at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture de Paris, La Villette. In 2007 he was an exchange student at the CCA (California College of the Arts) in San Francisco. He has participated in numerous international exhibitions in recent years, including in 2018 The Jerusalem Show at Al Ma'mal Foundation, CROSSECTIONS at Kunsthalle Exnergasse, Vienna and AQUA - Contemporary Artists and Water Issues, Isola dei Pescatori, Stresa, Lago Maggiore and in 2017 at Shifting Ground, Sharjah Biennial-Offsite, Ramallah. Jonatan Benjamin Boyadgian will be a guest at Villa Romana in October and November.

The Kurdish artist Heja Türk will also be a guest artist in July and August. Born in 1988 in Mardin, Turkey, she has lived in Germany since seeking refuge in 2018. Heja Türk's work spans various genres. She is working on a film and is currently recording her own music album. She studied Western Languages and Literature at Boğaziçi University, Istanbul. In 2016 she published The Comparative Essay on Kurdish and African-American Short Stories in the Context of Textual Violence and Resistance Literature, and in 2014 Dengbêjiya Jin, Dengbêjên Mêr: Fatma Îsa Çawa bû Dengbêj (Breaking the Patriarchal Hegemony: The Voice of the Feminine Dengbêj), Journal Yazinca, Boğaziçi University, Istanbul. She has worked as a translator and researcher, and collected Kurdish folk songs for dance and music performances. Since 2018 she has been working as the producer and leading actress of the movie Panopticon.

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