What’s On
 May & June 2018

Photo by Lena Sobeh
Interactive Discussion
The Intifada and the National Dimension of Palestinian Embroidery

Speaker: Dr. Islah Jad
Wednesday, 2 May | 17:30 - 18:30

When the first intifada broke out in 1987 Palestinian embroidery was used as an effective weapon and a new means of resistance. In response to the Zionist occupation’s confiscation of Palestinian flags during demonstrations, and its prohibition against the display of the flag’s colours in public spaces, women of the West Bank began to produce “intifada gowns”, adorning their grey, blue and black cloth with embroidered national designs and symbols as visual representations of their resistance. Thus despite the view of embroidery as a distinctly feminine concern, its identification with resistance gave women the opportunity to challenge their traditional roles and assume new ones. Similarly resistance through embroidery offered the opportunity to do away with class distinctions among women, and to turn women with no social or political privileges into active and influential participants in resistance efforts.

The intifada gowns and the narratives of the women who embroidered them, presented in the Labour of Love exhibition at the Palestinian Museum, will constitute the starting point of a discussion led by Dr Islah Jad. The discussion will delve into the national dimension of embroidery from a woman’s perspective, and will seek to comprehend the role of women in resistance during the 1987 intifada, and the contradictory effects of that intifada on women and the women’s movement, in addition to understanding the national dimension of the activities of women who continue to embroider professionally in Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan, women whose narratives are rarely recognised in the context of national struggle.

The talk will be in Arabic.

Karam Al-Maloukh, decorated pens, 2005 and 2007, silk threads and pens, made in Bir Al-Saba prison, and hand-made prayer beads, 2006, mixed media, made in Ofer prison, courtesy of Karam Al-Maloukh, by Kayané Antreassian
Embroidery of Love and Resistance: Pieces from Prison

Speaker: Karam Maloukh
Saturday, 5 May | 14:00 – 15:00

As political prisoners in Israeli jails, men embroider to counter boredom, to resist their incarceration, and make gifts for loved ones. These objects, frequently mingle expressions of national pride with romantic love. During periods when craft materials are banned from entering prisons, the very making of these pieces requires clever improvisation of tools and materials. Prisoners unravel threads from their clothing and use medicine as chemical dye.

Memories and details about the prison’s experience that we haven’t heard about before. Karam Al-Maloukh, a released prisoner, will tell us about this experience.

The talk will be in Arabic.

Photo by Lena Sobeh
Transformations in the Textile Industry of Gaza and al-Majdal

Speaker: Dr. Rashad al-Madani
Sunday, 6 May| 11:00 – 12:30
Place: the Islamic University, Gaza/Conferences Hal,
Tayba Building

Among the many characteristics that distinguish the Gazan embroidered dress from other dresses belonging to different regions in Historic Palestine, the historical value of its textile is what renders it unique. Dr. Rashad al-Madani, a researcher in the fields of oral history and Palestinian heritage, will discuss the developments that the textile industry has witnessed in Gaza and al-Majdal. Such developments manifested in Palestinian traditional customs and the oral history narrated around the textile industry such as Palestinian folkloric songs pre the 1948 Nakbah.

The seminar will also shed light on the transformations that occurred to the raw materials used in the textile industry post the Nakbah and how the industry has gradually shifted from al-Majdal to Gaza to ultimately disappear. This declared the end of a craft that not only generated income for many Palestinians but also carried a great historical value. The seminar will be moderated by the Gazan writer, Ghareeb al-Asqalani, and the Collections Registrar at the Palestinian Museum, Baha al-Jubeh via video conference from Ramallah.

The talk will be in Arabic.

Photo by Iwan Baan
Museums and Recognition Politics in Settler-Colonial
States: Towards Palestinian Alter/natives

In collaboration with the Master Programme in Israeli Studies
and the Bachelor Programme of Contemporary Visual Art at Birzeit University
Speaker: Dr. Lila Abu-Lughod

Wednesday, 9 May | 14:00 

Abu-Lughod will reflect on Palestine’s political impasses in relation to the experiences of other colonized places and people, inspired by current debates in critical indigenous and native studies about settler colonialism in places like Australia and North America. Her lecture focusses on the promises and pitfalls of new imaginations of sovereignty and self-determination that are emerging in indigenous activism and how they relate to the politics of museums. Through a journey that will take us to key museums and to rituals marking recognition and apology around the world, she ends by raising questions about how we might interpret the current emergence of Palestinian cultural projects like the Palestinian Museum. Can the settler colonial framework burst open the Palestinian political imagination?

The talk will be in English with availability of interpretation.

Dig and Seek: Young Excavators

In partnership with PITTI Academy,
Palestinian lnstitute for Training, Teaching & Innovation
Saturday, 12 May | 15:00 -18:00

This workshop aims to foster and develop the excavation and research skills of school students, skills which are considered essential for museums work around the world.

The workshop includes exciting scientific activities such as dinosaurs’ bones excavation, the dark room, ice excavation, origami dinosaur, riddles, and other mind-provoking activities.

This workshop is suitable for children aging between 6 and 15 years old. The participants will be divided into teams of 4 to reinforce the value of teamwork and collaboration to successfully accomplish the experiments. The winning teams will be rewarded with prizes.

 For more details about the registration fees and for registration, please fill out the online form here

Conceptual Workshop
On the other Side of Resistance: Representing the Implicit Fragility of Embroidery through Origami

In partnership with Origami Palestine
Friday, June 22| 16:00 – 18:00

Origami is the time-honored Japanese folkloric craft of creating precise visual details through the folding of paper into fully realized representations of earthly objects. This meticulous practice which requires the utmost of patience and vigor can find a correlative partner in the Palestinian tradition of embroidery. Still, notwithstanding its relation to embroidery, it is a fragile product since it is made of paper. This fragility puts the effort employed and the resulting displayed beauty at the risk of perishing under the effects of surrounding conditions. Although embroidery enjoys relative strength with the material it uses to come to life, and in its inherent nature symbolizes a correlation to resilience and sustainability, the socioeconomic conditions of Palestine where it is currently produced renders this art fragile and sensitive.

The convergence and divergence between Palestinian traditional embroidery and origami will enable the Palestinian Museum us to use origami as an entry point to touch upon the embroidery concepts addressed in the Labour of Love exhibition. As we are taught the origami techniques, we learn to fold shapes imitating the Palestinian traditional embroidery patterns in a conceptual workshop that uses paper as a media available to children. This method aids children in the enhancement of their motor skills and mental development, to creatively and non-conventionally learn about Palestinian embroidery.

To register, please fill the online form here.  

Interactive Talk
The Economics of Embroidery

Speaker: Dr. Samia Al-Botmeh
Sunday, June 24| 14:00 – 15:00

The history of embroidery has always been connected to a market of sale, not least through the trade of textiles and the production of fabrics. In Palestine, however, its labour tended to be personal: historically, embroidery was hand made by a woman for her own wear. The Nakba significantly altered the structure of embroidery’s production. Although there were embroidered items made for the market before 1948, the Nakba split rural women from their self-sufficient livelihoods in agriculture, forcing them to seek waged work instead. After the Nakba, many charities were established to constitute the pillars of political resistance by supporting women and their families through providing them with jobs. However, this was the outcome of integrating women into the labour market, which led in turn to the governing of embroidery’s production through capitalist modes. Nowadays, Palestinian embroidery is prevailing as a commodity for consumption, and this fact stirs complex questions concerning the nature of embroidery as a product. 

We will discuss with Dr. Samia Butmeh, assistant professor of economics at Birzeit University, the transformations in the production modes of embroidery and the political and social dimensions that resulted from such transformations. The lecture will draw on how these shifts affected both the reality of Palestinian women and the essence of embroidery, taking into consideration that the production of embroidery is time-consuming and requires extraordinary manual skills to generate unique and enduring pieces. The discussion panel will raise questions such as: what is it like to import embroidered pieces from China as opposed to the intimate process of hand crafting them in Palestine?

The talk will be in Arabic.
To register, please fill the online form here.   

Ethnographic and Artistic Collections at Birzeit University Museum

Speakers: Vera Tamari and Bahaa’ Al-Ju’be
Wednesday, June 27| 17:30 – 18:30

Labour of Love displays a collection of ethnographic artifacts which document the history of Palestinian dresses and their accessories. The collection, borrowed from the Birzeit University Museum, includes special dresses which date back to the 1940s from Bedouin communities, Beit Dajan, Hebron, and other locales in Palestine.

The collection of Palestinian dresses from the Birzeit University Museum is particularly important, as it is complemented with Tawfiq Kanaan’s collection of Palestinian amulets and phylacteries, also owned by the University. All of these artifacts represent a major source of reference to the academic studies and interpretations of the symbols revolving around Palestinian dresses’ embroidery patterns. Furthermore, the dresses inspire quality art exhibitions on the history of Palestinian embroidery and dresses from critical perspective, including Beyond Aesthetics, 2011 and The Ceremonial Vniform, 2014, curated by Designer Omar Bin Dina. 
To register, please fill the online form here

Family Day
The Manifestations of Embroidery in Folkloric Songs and Dabka

El-Funoun Palestinian Popular Dance Troupe and Al-Zinnar Women Ensemble
Friday, June 29| 5:00 - 8:00 pm

Join us to learn about the performative aspects of Palestinian embroidery through a series of dance performances by both male and female dancers from the El-Funoun Palestinian Popular Dance Troupe. The performances are inspired by the troupe’s latest performance entitled Ṭallat. The first part of the dance will be held in the Museum’s Labour of Love exhibition space with the aim of creating live performative interaction between the dancers and the exhibited embroidered dress “forest”. The dancers will then continue outdoors, where they will narrate through physical movement the lives of Palestinian women and their customs of practise in the villages of Historic Palestine. The family day will also include a performance by Al-Zinnar Women Ensemble from the Palestinian town Assira Al Shamalia. The women will present Palestinian folkloric songs in a unique performative manner which will combine the donning of Palestinian traditional clothes, singing, and dancing, in order to evoke how traditional clothes can be read as documents that carry layers and layers of women's lives over time.

To register, please fill the online form here.    

Photo by Faris Shomali
The Summer Camp of  the Labour of Love exhibition
June 25 – August 1, 2018
Schools may register for the activities of the summer camp
at the Palestinian Museum at: activities@palmuseum.org
Places are limited. The Palestinian Museum team will contact schools
to confirm registration and exact dates.

University Students 

To book an interactive tour, please fill the online form here

Group Guided Tours
To book a group guided tour, click here.