Ahlam Shibli - "Unrecognized"

Curator: Tal Ben-Zvi

Ahlam Shibli lives in Haifa and works as a community social worker. She studied photography in the" Wizo" School in Haifa. Her exhibition, "Unrecognized", was created as a photographic-documentary project, following her work as a social worker in the unrecognized Arab villages in the Galilee in general and in the village "Areb El Naim" in particular.

Before 1948, the residents of "Areb El Naim" lived in the "Teffen" area. After 1948, they were given an Israeli right of possession over 200 acres in this area. In 1964, the people were evacuated from their homes and their houses destroyed, and the whole area was affiliated by the army as part of a fire zone. The village "Areb El Naim" has 900 residents today. It is an unrecognized village, with no basic infrastructure, it is not connected to the Electricity Company and some of the residents have private generators. It is not connected to the Water Company and the water is brought into the village in tankers. There is one kindergarten in a tin hut, established and operated by the "Forty Association", as well as an infirmary visited by a doctor once a week. The school pupils attend school in "Sachnin", and their bus stop is two kilometers from the village. Most of the village men work as laborers in Carmiel and Sachnin. The women work in the home, from doing the laundry by hand to baking bread and taking care of their families.

This exhibition is a sequel to Ahlam Shiblin's occupation as a photographer, mapping her space of existence as a Palestinian artist. In her last exhibition, "Wadi Salib in nine volumes", she mapped and documented fragments of houses and old articles through which she reconstructed the lives of the Palestinians before 1948.

In this exhibition, she is mapping and documenting the surface once again - the village people, their possessions and their houses, pointing at the impossible gap between the subjective-intimate-human-concrete concept of "home" as it exists in reality and as it exists on maps -Israel's legal concept of "home". Through the photographs, Ahlam Shibli indicates a contradiction between one set of signs and a second set of signs: one seeks to show what seemingly does not exist, while the other seeks to conceal what does exist. These are sets of signs that undermine each other. Ahlam Shibli exposes the powers that destroy the illusion of the ability to erase, the real human existential powers that leave their imprints on the surface.