RETURNING: Palestinian Family Memories in Clay Reliefs, Photographs and Texts

Book Talk
Speakers: The author, artist Vera Tamari in conversation with Salim Tamari, PhD

Wednesday, June 12th | 17:00-18:30
Location: The Palestinian Museum and via Zoom
Language: Arabic

Join us for the launch of RETURNING: Palestinian Family Memories in Clay Reliefs, Photographs and Texts by the artist Vera Tamari. The book is the culmination of an art project she developed between the years 1989 and 1996, for which she created a series of fifteen terracotta bas-relief panels titled ‘Family Portraits.’ Tamari’s inspiration was family photographs taken in Palestine between the early 1920s and the 1948 Nakba selected from her father’s archive.

Through clay reliefs, photographs, and texts, the book documents artistically and through personal vignettes the details of the life of Vera Tamari’s family, and how they lived in Jerusalem and Yaffa. It thus captures a precise and intimate depiction of the everyday rhythms of a middle-class family in Palestinian society before their forced displacement during the Nakba.

The narrative and visual presentation is not limited to the story of ethnic cleansing and loss; rather, these aspects are transcended to urge the reader to remember and piece together the past to enable a state of mind that can not only envision return, but pave the way to it.

About the Artist Vera Tamari

Tamari was born in Jerusalem. She is a Palestinian visual artist, an academic, a historian of Islamic art, and an exhibition curator. She obtained a BA in Fine Arts from the Beirut College for Women (now the Lebanese American University) in Lebanon. Tamari completed her studies in ceramics at the Instituto Statale per la Ceramica in Florence, Italy, in 1972. In 1984, she obtained an MFA degree in Islamic Art and Architecture from Oxford University.

Throughout her career, she has promoted arts and culture in Palestinian society. She also worked at Birzeit University for more than two decades as a Lecturer in Art, Islamic Architecture, and Art History. During her time there, she founded the Birzeit University Museum and directed it between the years 2005 and 2010. Tamari still plays an important role in the artistic and cultural scene, as she works as a consultant and member of many cultural institutions and councils. Artistically, Tamari is distinguished by her ceramic works, sculpture, and conceptual art, which she has exhibited extensively in solo or group exhibitions in Palestine, the Arab world, Europe, the United Kingdom, Japan, and the United States of America. She lives and works in Ramallah.

About Salim Tamari, PhD

Tamari is a senior researcher at the Institute for Palestine Studies and the former director of the Institute for Palestine Studies-affiliated Institute for Jerusalem Studies. He is an editor of Jerusalem Quarterly and Hawliyyat al Quds. He holds a doctorate in sociology from the University of Manchester and is a professor of sociology at Birzeit University. He has many books on urban culture, political sociology, biography, social history, and the social history of the Eastern Mediterranean. Tamari has served as a Visiting Professor at the University of California, Berkeley (2005, 2007, 2008); Eric Lane’s colleague at Cambridge University (2008); a Visiting Professor at Columbia University (New York), a Visiting Professor at Al-Quds University, and is a Lecturer in Mediterranean Studies Venice University (2002-present).

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