Rana Bishara, The Roadmap for Elimination, 2006-Ongoing. OCHA maps, dried cacti, black threads, 240x400x400cm. Courtesy of the artist
This art work reflects the theme of "Archaeology of Place"

Archaeology of Place

Taysir Batniji created GH0809#2 (Gaza houses 2008-2009) after the military operation against Gaza which took place between 27th December 2008 to 18th January 2009. The photographs of each home are displayed in the form of real estate adverts with the detailed neutral description of specifications of each house common to such dvertisements. The aim of the artist was to commit these sites to memory through this form of testimony which can also be read as a type of archaeological record of historic ruins. Laila Shawa’s Walls of Gaza series document the walls of the city during the First Intifada. The graffiti was part of the urban landscape, which conveyed resistance strategies and national proclamations of the First Intifada. Walls became a palimpsest of political discourse and positions, that were regularly painted over by Israeli occupation soldiers.

Rana Bishara also works with remnants of the landscape, through the form of the cactus. The cactus has been invested with particular symbolic value, as it marks the sites of villages destroyed and erased in 1948 and is taken as a sign of steadfastness. In her installation, Bishara creates a room of cacti, their remains are like eerie fragile skeletons, as they hang, they create an array of shadows onto the maps which cover the surfaces of the room. The maps themselves detail the transformation of landscape over time. The cactus forms themselves echo the maps and speak of a perforated fragile landscape.
Another remain in the landscape is the photograph that documents Nida Sinnokrot’s Jonah’s Whale, which appears like a skeleton found in natural history museums. The containers are a palimpsest as Sinnokrot describes, “The one I have is inscribed with children’s sketches, Russian, Hebrew, Arabic, English, showing the traces of its journey from a container to Israeli caravan to Palestinian construction site, all with resonant stories of promise, default and debt.”

The traces remain and ruins of a disappearing landscape come to the fore, in the work of Benji Boyadgian. The Temporary Ruin is a detailed study of vanishing landscape, through the found objects of this valley, commonly known at the valley of garbage, but which is earmarked for construction in the ‘Greater Jerusalem Plan.’ “Artistically, I produce a situation to document this material and propose a story for each curiosity. I focus on the objects’ anatomy, deterioration, and tonal etiolation, an attempt to “challenge their disappearance.”Fragments and traces of the landscape are also the subject of Johny Andonia’s work, the painting, Jerusalem Stone, is partly inspired by early childhood experiences of workshops of stone carvers, now dying craftsmanship as a result of the rapid commercialisation of this industry. The groups of stones that could have been quarried at different geographical locations were brought together and merged in compositions that could resemble mountain chains, agricultural terraces or landscapes.”

The Archaeology of Occupation, is a series of collages by Hazem Harb, which combines archival photographs of Palestine prior to 1948, with ominous concrete structures which seem to float in space as though invading the landscape. The works present a strong sense of foreboding, while highlighting the alien forms of concrete, and their formal properties which have filled the landscape of Palestine and which have become part of the physical infrastructure of occupation. Archaeology is an underlying theme that runs through many of the works discussed which is explored by artists, not as its academic discipline but understood more as a form of testimony.