|I See Palestine Apart-Hide (This) Map, hand-stitched cotton thread, linen, 2018 21" x 16"|
"Memory adds to the unrelieved intensity of Palestinian exile. Palestine is central to the cultures of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism...there is no forgetting it, no way of overlooking it." -- Edward Said, from After The Last Sky: Palestinian Lives
I created this map as an outsider and especially as an American whose government is directly complicit in the ethnic cleansing of Palestine; I don't claim to speak for Palestinians or to portray the Palestinian experience. As I've learned about Palestine and the false Zionist narrative that allows its Apartheid project to continue unabated, I've found that I can't look away. I refuse to not see Palestine or to dehumanize Palestinians. I refuse to be willfully ignorant about its erasure or complacent about the myth that it never existed.
As Palestinian writer Nada Elia states, "the Zionist logic would also deny that Native Americans existed, because they did not have nation states recognisable to Europeans."
In 1948, almost 80 percent of the Palestinian people had become refugees, an estimated 750,000 people expelled from their homes, their towns and villages, and hundreds were massacred. This is what is known as the Nakba, or catastrophe.
My map depicts, on the right side, Palestine both before and after the Nakba, filled with images that I stitched in the 'mosaic style'. They include ancient mosaics and architecture, an olive tree, Jaffa oranges, fishing boats, a roundabout in Ramallah, the sculpture of a horse that stands in front of the Jenin Freedom Theater--that has been raided by Israeli soldiers numerous times--and the Al Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam. I also represent the three major religions in the area of Jerusalem, and I did my best to be geographically correct with the placement of particular images that I chose.
The map on the left side is not a real place but represents an ideology which is based on supremacism and separation, enforced by the machines of war that maintain Apartheid and colonization. Its shape is Palestine flipped backward to symbolize Zionism as devolution, and I stitched within it objects that include automatic weapons, a drone, fighter jets, bombs, a tank, a surveillance camera, the Apartheid wall, a helicopter, and a bulldozer.
The two map shapes together reminded me of a butterfly, and it came to represent the unseen collective soul that underlies the activities of human life. The right wing of the butterfly is outlined by olive leaves, the left by bullets, depicting things of the world that are either soul nurturing or soul killing.
I based the line design that fills the background on the Palestinian scarf called a keffiyeh, and it represents two things at once: the veil of forgetfulness that allows humans to be separated from their higher selves and to forget the oneness that connects us all, and the oneness itself, the unified whole where all of our lives are intertwined. I framed this piece with the keys that stand for the right of Palestinian refugees to return. The title has a dual meaning - I see Palestine apart -- hide (Apartheid) and hide this map (this map should be censored because it doesn't fit the mainstream narrative).