You Sat at The Fountain While You Stole the House on the Hill (2018), Katherine E. Nash Gallery, Minneapolis, MN
Using the strategies employed by Rona Sela, Saidiya Hartman, and Ariella Azoulay, I critically read the historical material and denotation presented within Israeli and Palestinian digital archives and historical accounts, and contextualize them with family oral histories to create a counter narrative to dominant Zionist culture which occupies my family’s as well as the people of Palestine’s land, history, and existence. Created for my BFA thesis exhibition at the Katherine E. Nash Gallery, this installation specifically focuses on the events that transpired in the theft of my family home in the village of Wadi Hunayn, the functions of erasure evident within the Israeli narratives surrounding the events, and the discrepancies between my inherited oral histories and those of the authoritative Israeli institutions.
I create a counter narrative, a temporal space where the “what could have been,” which I define in this context as the refashioning of Palestinian narrative, the preserving of a history that is actively held hostage or erased, and the fabrication of artifacts relevant to my family’s life and theft of livelihood, is able to emerge. In the critical reading of historical information both within and outside of the institutions that hold power over Palestinian narratives, I make historical information, which has intentionally been erased, present both physically and temporally. The installation which lies somewhere between historical documentation and art, aims to dismantle harmful dominant narratives that cultivate and celebrate acts of colonialism, occupation, and genocide in the Palestine and the Arab world and create spaces for placeless and contested histories to exist.
Artifacts included in the wall installation (from left to right): You Sat at the Fountain While You Stole the House on the Hill, Ultimate Archival, Trophy, FN Model D; Tenderly Held, Bullets/Medals Adorn Chests in Different Ways, Map of a Nameless Place, Do You Want the Deed to My House? I Have it in Every Form, Pass(t) Due to Iffat Taji, Pass(t) Due to Me
Artifacts included in vitrine: The Taji Family's Fine China, Silverware, Passport, Two Medals from Haganah Militia; 52nd Battalion, Givati Brigade
Rethinking Public Spaces: The Wall (2017), Prospect Park Community Garden, Minneapolis, MN
In the wake of an election and a current political climate that has left us facing such xenophobic rhetoric as “Build the Wall” and establishing a “Muslim Ban,” many activists have said that we must build bridges in order to make human connections and provide people with sanctuary, not walls. As Palestinian Americans witnessing the destruction of communities and diverse ethnic and ecological landscapes, both in the U.S. and internationally, my collaborator Leila Awadallah and I were interested in breaking down walls that should never have existed.
The installation culminated in a final interactive performance in which the the community was invited to break down The Wall in order to convey that a concrete or metal facade is just that: a facade. A wall can divide and negatively define communities, landscapes, ecologies and livelihoods, but it can and will be dismantled by the subversive acts of our community.