Stones and Other Demons
2019, Giclée print on Hahnemühle German Etching, 85 cm x 70 cm

l'étrangère gallery at Photo London

The residency in Ramallah was possible thanks to the Ujazdowski Castle
Centre for Contemporary Art, AIR Programme

In 1922, The Journal of the Palestine Oriental Society published a seminal article about Palestinian rituals and beliefs, The Haunted Springs and Wells of Palestine by Tawfiq Canaan. In it, Canaan wrote extensively about the rites of everyday life that were similar, if not identical, among Muslims, Jews and Christians. The hills, shrines, wells and trees bound people together, a landscape that hosted one diverse and rich culture. Traditional beliefs were stronger than religious differences. Zionism put an end to that. The symbolic links to the land were severed. The long process of uprooting left a wasteland.

I was searching for traces of these native bonds to the land in Palestine. Not a rhetoric of ethnic belonging, but a connection to the matter. I found a curious collection of stones, gathered from Palestinian hills over the last 15 years by one Mohamad Badwan.

I thought this showed exactly the love and care for inorganic matter that has been lost. The stones in Mohamad’s collection are special. He picked them up from the ground because he saw forms in them: skulls, both human and animal, faces, mouths, birds, dinosaur eggs, peculiar growths, etc. His stones are a result of careful and watchful looking down. It has not been an abstract territory he observed, the symbolic Promised Land, the axis of conflict, but just stony ground, the living surface of the Earth.

So his collection was put on display, carefully composed, in his shop at Altereh St. in Ramallah. The shelves are weighed down by hundreds of his finds, the counter hosts some of the „fruits” and the entrance is rammed with „dinosaur eggs”. The stones have relationships to each other and Mohamad visibly suffers if his compositions are altered. The “fossils”, as he calls them, neighbour oil bottles, cigarette packs, crisps, dishwashing liquid, chicken eggs and plastic cups. All these objects create a unique landscape. His shop is a window into a different understanding of time and a different order of things. And to Palestine re-imagined by Mohamed.

I saw Canaan’s demons in the stones. Those shared by Muslims, Christians and Jews, and which Cannan described in such detail. On top of Mohamad’s reading, I saw the intensity of non-human life. And the real bond to the land.

Stones and Other Demons I
Giclée print on Hahnenühle German Etching, 70 cm x 85 cm

Stones and Other Demons II
Giclée print on Hahnenühle German Etching, 70 cm x 85 cm

Stones and Other Demons III
Giclée print on Hahnenühle German Etching, 70 cm x 85 cm

Stones and Other Demons IV
Giclée print on Hahnenühle German Etching, 70 cm x 85 cm

Stones and Other Demons V
Giclée print on Hahnenühle German Etching, 70 cm x 85 cm

Stones and Other Demons VI
Giclée print on Hahnenühle German Etching, 70 cm x 85 cm

Stones and Other Demons VII
Giclée print on Hahnenühle German Etching, 70 cm x 85 cm

Stones and Other Demons VIII
Giclée print on Hahnenühle German Etching, 70 cm x 85 cm

Stones and Other Demons IX
Giclée print on Hahnenühle German Etching, 70 cm x 85 cm

Stones and Other Demons X
Giclée print on Hahnenühle German Etching, 70 cm x 85 cm

Stones and Other Demons XI
Giclée print on Hahnenühle German Etching, 70 cm x 85 cm

Stones and Other Demons XII
Giclée print on Hahnenühle German Etching, 70 cm x 85 cm

Stones and Other Demons XIII
Giclée print on Hahnenühle German Etching, 70 cm x 85 cm

Stones and Other Demons XIV
Giclée print on Hahnenühle German Etching, 70 cm x 85 cm

Stones and Other Demons XV
Giclée print on Hahnenühle German Etching, 70 cm x 85 cm

Stones and Other Demons XVI
Giclée print on Hahnenühle German Etching, 70 cm x 85 cm

Stones and Other Demons XVII
Giclée print on Hahnenühle German Etching, 70 cm x 85 cm

Stones and Other Demons XVIII
Giclée print on Hahnenühle German Etching, 70 cm x 85 cm

Stones and Other Demons XIX
Giclée print on Hahnenühle German Etching, 70 cm x 85 cm

Stones and Other Demons XX
Giclée print on Hahnenühle German Etching, 70 cm x 85 cm

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