Credit: 

Arda Aghazarian for Jerusalem Story

Blog Post

“And We Still Follow Its Path”: Palestinian Artists Explore the Nuances of Jerusalem in Local Exhibit

On December 1, 2021, the Palestinian Art Court—al-Hoash launched an exhibition, “And We Still Follow Its Path,” focused on personal and collective narratives around Jerusalem. The exhibit title suggests that the relationship Palestinian Jerusalemites have with their city is ever-changing yet stable, as well as the dynamic—both individual and collective—reflections and narratives revolving around it.

Through 10 artworks of painting, sculpture, collage, and video and audio installations (see BOX: The 10 Art Works), 13 artists produced and proposed narratives that, in the words of the curator, “go beyond the city’s sacredness, and . . . bring about its multilayered stories of personal intimacies, nostalgic imaginaries, and research-driven investigations.”

The exhibition also invited audience participation by featuring interactive works, thereby creating a dynamic process of “constructing the city’s narratives,” according to the al-Hoash website.

All 10 art works works, varying in themes and media, are thought-provoking. A few are described in greater detail below.

Palestinian Art Court—al-Hoash

A cultural institution for the visual arts that is research-based and locally rooted

“Sorry, Your Search for ‘Palestine’ Produced No Results”

Bisan Abu Eisheh’s installation consisted of a series of videos from Jerusalem plus an interactive wooden map. The title of his work was a reaction to the tourist guidebook Jerusalem: Israel, Petra, and Sinai by DK Eyewitness, which makes no mention of Palestinian life in Jerusalem or anywhere in Palestine. Bisan explains how he found this dismissal of Palestinian presence “very unsettling as an individual who grew up as a Palestinian in the city of Jerusalem.”

In the interactive wooden map, Jerusalem is the central piece, under which the names of the depopulated Palestinian villages are placed. In other words, some village names are in place, but buried under them are the original names of those or other villages that had been depopulated.

The 10 Art Works

Bisan Abu Eisheh, “Sorry, Your Search for ‘Palestine’ Produced No Results” (art installation)

Sabreen al-Haj Ahmad, “Jerusalem’s Loose Orchids” (acrylic painting on canvas and a sculpture)

Assem Attoun, “Night Birds: The Symphony of Jackals” (sound installation)

Mohammad Hawajri, “Journey with the Winged” (acrylic on canvas)

Yasmine Mansour, “The City as a Museum” (digital painting)

Reem and Majd Masri, “Re-narration” (mixed media, collage, and painting)

Saja Quttaineh, “No One Shall Enter Here, and No One Shall Stay” (photography from al-Nabi Samwil village)

Shada Safadi and Moath Ghader, “Going by Intuition” (video, digital painting, and digital photo collage)

Mohammed Saleh and Ghadeer Dajani, “On Condition, You Plant a Garden” (garden art installation—which was not presented on the opening night due to the bad weather)

Muhammad Shareef, “The Modern Factory for Olive Wood” (wooden sculpture)

Catalogue of the varied-media works in the exhibit, "And We Still Follow Its Path," held at Palestinian Art Court—al-Hoash

Bisan Abu Eisheh presenting his interactive art installation at al-Hoash, December 1, 2021

Credit: 

Arda Aghazarian for Jerusalem Story

Bisan Abu Eisheh presenting his interactive art installation at al-Hoash, December 1, 2021

Credit: 

Arda Aghazarian for Jerusalem Story

During the exhibition, Bisan encouraged visitors to move the pieces (as in a puzzle) to see the missing pieces lying underneath. He also welcomed the visitors to make notes and write down names of other areas and villages around the puzzle.

The idea conveyed is that that which has been removed from sight nevertheless exists.

The idea conveyed is that that which has been removed from sight nevertheless exists.

“The City as a Museum”

Yasmine Mansour in front of her digital painting, al-Hoash, December 1, 2021

Credit: 

Arda Aghazarian for Jerusalem Story

Yasmine Mansour, who recently graduated with a degree in architecture from the American University of Sharjah, presented a digital painting of Jerusalem through which she reflected on her identity and history as well as the spirit and culture of this city.

Almost like a dollhouse, her digital painting showed the unique attributes of Damascus Gate and the Old City of Jerusalem, such as the shops of leather bags and pomegranate juice, the carts with the ka‘ek of Jerusalem, and women vendors selling mint leaves and parsley, among others.

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“Going by Intuition”

Shada Safadi in front of her video, digital painting, and digital photo collage at al-Hoash, December 1, 2021

Credit: 

Arda Aghazarian for Jerusalem Story

Shada Safadi and Moath Ghader imagined an encounter between the Dome of the Rock and Jerusalem. “We had heard so much about Jerusalem from our families when I was a kid. They always talked about Jerusalem being ‘over there,’ so I imagined it was very close,” Shada, who is from the occupied Golan Heights, explains.

“By the time I was six years old, my sister and I decided to walk to Jerusalem. We just took off and were determined to reach Jerusalem by foot.” They did not go too far, but their parents were nevertheless worried about where the two girls had gone to for a few hours. “To Jerusalem!” was their answer. Shada explains that for them as children, they imagined Jerusalem, with the presence of the Dome of the Rock, as a magical, golden, and dreamlike place that they were quite curious about. The video presents a dreamy and surreal visualization of the imagined city.

As children, they imagined Jerusalem, with the presence of the Dome of the Rock, as a magical, golden, and dreamlike place . . .

“Re-narration”

Reem Masri presenting the mixed media, collage and painting that she and her twin sister prepared, al-Hoash, December 1, 2021

Credit: 

Arda Aghazarian for Jerusalem Story

Twin sisters Reem and Majd Masri presented a collaborative work that narrates the story of their father through the letters he shared with his wife (their mother) during the time he spent in prison as a political detainee.

“Our father often retold his story to us,” Reem shares, and each time he told his stories, they would feel as if they were hearing it for the first time. “We still pay attention to the details and sometimes narrate along in silence part of the story that we have memorized. Stories with few heroes, yet they constitute the small home that we live in, our safe haven.”

In the letters between the twins’ parents and also the photo of them as a young couple, there is much to decipher in the contradiction of being locked (in jail) while being so open-minded and free spirited.

In her welcoming remarks at the exhibit opening, lead curator and art researcher Rawan Sharaf explained that the artists “have pushed and expanded [Jerusalem’s] limits with works that address the wildlife, biodiversity, and marginalized communities in dispossessed villages such as Sataf, Suba, and al-Nabi Samwil. [Some] works unravel nostalgic and fantastic imaginaries of the city, recalled from childhood memories, relics and intimate objects, while others tend challenged colonial narratives by offering an alternative local narrative.”

Rawan Sharaf speaking to the attendees at the opening of the exhibition, al-Hoash, December 1, 2021

Credit: 

Arda Aghazarian for Jerusalem Story

More than a hundred participants attended the opening night, which was held at the headquarters of al-Hoash at al-Zahra Street in Jerusalem. The exhibition coincided with al-Hoash’s launch of the online archive Yura—Palestinian Visual Art Resources Program.

The exhibit runs throughout December 2021 and January 2022.

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