This is the first in a series of posts looking at the artists featured in our exhibition Points of Departure, part of the 2013 Shubbak Festival in London (22 June - 6 July). We spoke to Palestinian artist Jumana Emil Abboud about her residency and the work she is exhibiting.
Tell about your experience throughout the process of the residency, both in Ramallah and London.
The residency afforded me the privilege to live out new rituals, through which a unique understanding of time evolved and, therefore, a refreshed attitude towards my creative space and approach. I acquired a new set of habits that were focused primarily on my creative self and her development. The freedom available to unfold ideas and work on them, as well as to dedicate myself fully to my studio, was something close to being phenomenally miraculous. During the residency, I was fortunate to meet fantastic artists who were also in residence at the Delfina Foundation: artists from Iran, Algeria, Turkey, Canada and Germany, not to mention Palestinian artists whom I had rarely had the opportunity to meet in Palestine. Being in London affirmed my belief that the residency experience is a map for one’s creative development that guides an artist to a charming treasure, and can lead to a multitude of creative ideas born of hard work, patience and openness, and ultimately, to creative growth.
What challenges did you face during each phase?
The challenges I faced concerned the development of my work in particular, as I was interested in working inside museums, filming myself repeatedly touching objects and statues in the museum. But this was not possible until Aaron Cezar, the director of Delfina Foundation, and Rebecca Heald, the Points of Departure curator, successfully arranged for me the possibility to film at Cambridge University. I was back in Jerusalem when the confirmation to film came through, and it was therefore necessary for me to return to the UK for 10 days to film in Cambridge. My project would not have been achieved to my intention if it had not been for the generosity of so many dedicated individuals whose continuous support and commitment throughout my project’s entire process was always enthusiastically evident.
Tell us about the works you showed in Ramallah and what you will be showing in London?
I showed a series of drawings in Ramallah that were entitled 'I feel nothing', and in London I will be showing a selection of the same drawings in addition to a video-poem. The works try to untangle our relationship with the physical world we live in and the supernatural world. Ideas of faith, superstition and doubt are all interwoven within a tapestry of memory, of healing and of pain or loss, of the body or parts of the body. I was primarily inspired from Palestinian folktales; The Handless Maiden in particular, that narrates the tale of a girl whose hands are forcefully cut off. I like to pose questions that juxtapose these various narratives with identity, memory and fragmentation.