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conception by
Bashir Makhoul

artwork by
you and me


Bashir Makhoul asks you to pick up
a box and place it in a garden in the
Giardino Occupato.

Bashir Makhoul invites you to occupy the
garden at Liceo Artistico Statale di Venezia.
Thousands of cardboard box houses are
added by both Makhoul and members of
the public over the course of the exhibition
Otherwise Occupied. This growing
cardboard shanty-town is constructed by
the public making and carrying each house
to be placed in the garden, creating a quiet
parade of houses through the surrounding
streets. Giardino Occupato emphasises the
performative aspects of occupation – the act
of getting there and of filling the space.

Unavoidably political, the work evokes
the politics of space in Palestine, alluding
to both the filling of the West Bank with
Settlements and the poor housing conditions
of many Palestinians and the haphazard
developments of Palestinian villages and
refugee camps under Israeli restrictions.

A garden is always already an act of violent
occupation, of humans forcing nature into
landscape. In this sense, Giardino Occupato
is a double invasion. Yet there is also a
playful quality to this work, calling to mind
childhood preoccupations with boxes as
spaces of imaginative transformations. Play
however, can also be a subversive tool,
one, especially as deployed by Makhoul in
Giardino Occupato, which can allow us to
imagine and act otherwise.