Palestine, and a promised land

Project Category: 
Conflict: 

“Palestine, and a promised land”

By Samar Abu Elouf, Fatima Shbair, Samar Hazboun, Raya Manaa, Amal Kaawash

A group multimedia exhibition and installation on conflict in Palestine
Curated by Laura Boushnak

WARM Festival 2021
Red Cross building, Sarajevo
5-10 July 2021

A WARM Production.

Palestine, and a Promised Land
The oral history of the Nakba, the 1948 Palestinian exodus, is passed on from one generation to the next. My grandmother's stories about Haifa, where she lived before the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, became my imagined Palestine. In her fading memory, everything was simply perfect as I attempted to cling onto her stories of Palestine. A few months before her death, I asked her to recount for me how she was forced to leave her hometown in, 48. She simply replied, "Yes, we used to go to the beach all the time and have fun!" Seventy-three years have passed since, and Palestine remains a question that continuously challenged my identity. To answer the question "Where do you come from?", can never be a direct one. It's often followed with either silence or astonishment. Are you from Gaza living under the Israeli blockade, or the West Bank having to endure the long hours of daily humiliation at military checkpoints surrounded by the illegal settlements? Are you from Jerusalem living in fear of being expelled from your house? Or are you a Palestinian with an Israeli passport but live as a second-class citizen? Then you must be one of those who left in, 48 during the ethnic cleansing of Palestine and never allowed back. The idea of the exhibition was shaped by the recent 11-day destruction of Gaza that took the lives of 67 children. Rather than solely focusing our attention on the horrific and repetitive attacks on Gaza, I invited five Palestinian women artists to exhibit work that reveal the challenging circumstances of people living in Palestine and expose their shared struggle, including that of the artists themselves. Samar Abu Elouf and Fatima Shbair's works from Gaza include the latest destruction and a fraction of stolen moments of everyday life. Samar Hazboun shares with us the multi-layered experiences of youth living under military occupation in the West Bank. Raya Manaa’s project "Studio Al-Ameen," gives a glimpse of 40 years of life in Palestine through her father’s lenses, documented weddings of the diverse communities of Galilee. Amal Ziad Kaawash is also present with her words and voice calling out in song from the diaspora. The Israeli blockade limits the movement of the people. The almost 2 million Palestinians living in the strip are never allowed to flee, even during bombardment. It was out of the question to invite Samar and Fatima, who live in Gaza, to attend the opening of this exhibition. As I was writing this introduction, I received a voice message from Samar, who lives in the West Bank. With a broken voice, she informed me that her travel permit was declined by Israeli authorities. She will apply again, hoping that she will make it on time. I can’t accept the fact that Samar can’t travel to attend the opening. Why can’t she be with us? Why must she deal with a system that limits her movement? A system built to humiliate.
Laura Boushnak
Sarajevo, June 2021