The Great Illusion 2016

Mohammed Musallam
Factory Installed: September 30, 2016 – August 6, 2017
olive leaves, homemade olive oil, barbed wire, passports

The last page of the Palestinian passport reads 8220 this passport is of great value 8221 a phrase which has inspired the artist The...


The last page of the Palestinian passport reads “this passport is of great value,” a phrase which has inspired the artist. The artist carries a Palestinian passport which is also carried by millions of Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as a result of the Oslo Peace Treaty signed in 1993.

From his personal experience, the artist expresses the torment he and all Palestinians in Gaza are suffering from. The artist deals with the symbolist nature of his Palestinian passport to remind the world of the Palestinian people who are under siege and are still under occupation and calls upon the right of his people of an independent state that gives them the basic human rights of free mobility.

The artist used hundreds of real and used passports in his installation to pass on a message about him being prevented from free mobility, despite what a passport is supposed to provide, by connecting scattered passport pages, free from any travel stamps, on a barbed wire.

The artist connects the scattered elements of the installation by a cover made of an olive leaf, a symbol of Palestinian life since ancient times when passports were not needed for travel in the past.

The artist uses simple materials taken from his environment to express personal pain and humanitarian issues in an intense and concise manner.

Special thanks to Joe Slickovich and Bell-Carter Foods, Inc. for their time and donation of materials to this work.

About the Artist

Mohammed Musallam holds a MA in Painting from Helwan University, Cairo. He currently resides in Gaza and is a lecturer at the College of Arts, Al Aqsa University. His work includes installation, video and photography focused on the “preservation of our humaneness amid the harshness of our environment.” His work has been exhibited throughout the Middle East and Europe, as well as in the United States. His most recent work, Fragile Geography, was exhibited in Greece and France.