Image, narrative and landscape: reinstating Palestinian cartography through Palestinian voice

2017-02-16T05:34:16Z (GMT) by Zananiri, Sary
In this doctoral project I examine lineages of imaging in Palestine, and more specifically Jerusalem, to explore the underpinnings of the effacement of Palestinian narrative. To do so I will establish a kind of backbone of these generations of imaging, contextualising them in relation to the politics of their respective historical periods. Having established the hegemonic imaging modes, with their implications of displacement and effacement, I will look at how these images form cartographic re-imaginings, and ultimately, the production of landscape. I will then look at contemporary Palestinian responses to such landscape production through art practice. In looking at contemporary Palestinian cultural production I will also contextualise my own studio practice, the central part of this doctoral project and the object of my doctoral exhibition. While biblified landscape narratives clearly pre-existed the 19th century, the preconditions for Palestinian effacement can be seen in the establishment of biblifed cartography that developed in parallel 19th century with scientific advances, such as the birth of photography, and the growth in the West’s colonial ambitions and renewed interest in the region’s archaeology. This effacement continues in the biblical imaginary established by Hollywood of the 1950s and 60s. Subsuming Judaism into Christianity in filmic narrative, the Old Testament tradition becomes an extension of the proto-Christian ideal, and equates Christianity with Democracy. This can be seen as Hollywood’s tacit complicity in Israeli landscape production of the post Nakba period. I will unpack the production of landscape through the phenomena of Israeli memorial forests as repositories of Israeli collective memory and an assertion of Zionist claims of exile, return and renewal. Through an analysis of literature that privileges the role of trees as territorialised and culturally significant markers that serve to claim land, I will read the generational shifts in Israeli attitudes to landscape. I will analyse Zionist national approaches to conceptions of landscape to extrapolate the cultural and political impacts of such conceptions. Both the biblical and Zionist imaginaries can be seen as stemming from and reflecting the image-systems that root period socio-political beliefs into the landscape, as legitimised by contemporary academic research. In contrast, contemporary Palestinian cultural production, particularly in the visual arts with its implication of image, has developed a tendency of reassessing landscape in the light of the effacement of Palestinian narrative and Israeli landscape production, and by implication, the generations of imaging that have enabled such effacement. This process of Palestinian image production can be seen as both a vocalisation of Palestinian narrative and the production of a counter-cartography that responds to Israeli landscape production. At its essence, such cultural production articulates the lived, but fragmented, Palestinian experiences of landscape, whether the artists physically inhabit that landscape or not. In documenting the studio-based component of this project, I will posit artwork within the continuity of contemporary cultural production arguing that the production of Palestinian artwork in Australia ultimately hails from the same systemic causes as responses in localised practice in historic Palestine. This project, at its essence, is a contribution towards the broader documentation and self-definition of the Palestinian narrative.