Israeli artist Amir Guberstein and New York-born artist Jordan Nassar, who is Palestinian, are a gay married couple who produce art that reflects their unique cultural identities. They were recently interviewed by Paper Magazine.
Where’d you guys grow up?
Nassar: I was born on the Upper West Side; my dad was born here. His dad, who is Jordanian Palestinian, came to the U.S. as a teenager.
Guberstein: I was born in Israel, and I moved to Berlin when I was 21. I got my BFA and MFA there, and I moved [to New York] three and a half years ago. I met Jordan in Berlin. I was graduating when they overturned DOMA, and that was a big part of what made New York possible.
Amir, as an Israeli, how has your work been influenced by being gay?
Guberstein: I had a very easy coming out story. Dealing with the subject matter [in my art] has been lubricated by how easy it has been to confront my homosexuality. If anything, it’s allowed my personal demons to be more political than anything else.
As a gay Palestinian with a Muslim father and a Catholic mother, I find I get a lot of questions about how I identify and how I reconcile all of the different components – cultural, ethnic, religious – of who I am. Do you get the “what are you” question, Jordan?
Nassar: Well, identity is something I’ve just been thinking about. I was just at an artist’s residency in Tel Aviv for five weeks and as a Palestinian it’s already complicated to be in Israel. As a gay Palestinian in Israel you ask: is it more important to be in a gay space or more important to be in an Arab space? There are a lot of Israelis who feel like, why wouldn’t gay Palestinians in Israel be happy that they’re in Israel where they can go to gay bars and Pride? A gay Palestinian in the West Bank would have to be closeted. So one camp says I’m lucky to be on the Israeli side and another says I don’t need a gay bookstores, it’s better to be in an Arab country with Arab context.
Read the full interview on Paper Mag.