Emily Jacir

Emily Jacir, Memorial to 418 Palestinian Villages Which Were Destroyed, Depopulated, and Occupied by Israel in 1948, 2001, refugee tent, embroidery thread, record book, Collection National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens (EMST), installation view, ANTIDORON. The EMST Collection, Fridericianum, Kassel, photo: Mathias Völzke

This piece is the result of a three-month community-based project in which artist Emily Jacir erected a family-size refugee tent in her New York studio and stenciled the names of all the villages that were archived in Walid Khalidi’s book All That Remains. The Palestinian Villages Occupied and Depopulated by Israel in 1948 (2006) onto it. Over 140 people came through her studio to embroider the names while telling stories, socializing, or recounting how each village was destroyed; often accompanied by live Arabic music. The people who collaborated to make the Memorial were bankers, lawyers, filmmakers, dentists, consultants, playwrights, artists, activists, teachers, etc. Most were Palestinians (some of whom came from the villages in question), some were Israelis (who grew up in the remains of these villages), and they were joined by people from a multitude of backgrounds.

The piece was made during a brief period that Jacir, along with many of her Palestinian compatriots, spent in New York. Among the many people who participated in the sewing process were: Kamran Rastegar, Annemarie Jacir, Suhail Shadoud, Ali Abunimah, Steven Salaita, Sherene Seikaly, Samera Esmair, Rachel Jones, Larissa Sansour, Amira Solh, Tom Abowd, Munir Fakhereldin, Valerie Tevere and Angel Nevarez, Rene Gabri and Ayreen Anastas, David Thorne and Julia Meltzer, Youmna Chlala, Dahna Abou Rahme, Laila Sansour, Salim Tamari, Michael Rakowitz, John Menick, Oz Shelach, Yael Lerner, Anna Sherbany, Jenny Perlin, Zenib Sedira, Kareem Fahim, Susan Kelly, Livia Alexander, and many more. The Memorial is accompanied by a book with a daily log documenting all participants.

—Emily Jacir

Posted in Public Exhibition