By Reem Qawasmi
Manal Mahamid was born in 1976 and spent her childhood in the predominantly-Palestinian town Umm Al-Fahem that has been annexed to Israel and now lies in economic ruin. She holds a degree in museology and curating from Tel Aviv University and obtained a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Haifa in 2006. Manal has exhibited her multi-media works that focus on Palestinian existence and identity both locally and internationally; since 1996, she has held numerous solo exhibitions and participated in over 60 group exhibitions, including exhibitions in New York, Toronto, Stockholm, Düsseldorf, and London. Moreover, Manal has been granted a number of awards: She won in 2002 the A M Qattan Foundation’s Young Artist of the Year Award and the America-Israel Cultural Foundation Scholarship, in 2006 the Haifa University Scholarship of Excellence, and in 2007 the Riwaq Biennale Resident Artist Award of London’s Delfina Foundation. Furthermore, Manal has participated in art residencies that include the Townhouse Gallery in Cairo, Egypt (2004), and Peace of Art, Düsseldorf, Germany (2006).
Manal’s work focuses on everyday aspects, playing with elements such as time, place, and historical implications. Her creative processes search for truth; employing research, she assesses and questions historical accounts and examines the linear understanding of time. Seeking to mend the cracks in a society that is fragmented by oppression and a loss of identity, she explores the relationship between nostalgia and the current reality that is burdened with poverty and frustration.
Skilled in a number of artistic mediums, Manal has experimented with painting, sculpture, photography, video installations, and mixed media. The underlying thread is her main, substantial concern – the preservation of Palestine. “The Gazelle Project,” for example, was conceived during a family trip to the zoo, where the Palestinian gazelle was introduced as an Israeli gazelle. Manal spent two years researching Palestinian nature, and used the gazelle as a metaphor to answer questions pertaining to the question of Palestinian identity. “Work in Progress,” presented at the Bab idDeir Art Gallery, is based on research into the repercussions of the Nakba. By repurposing works created around 1948, Manal breaks down the colonial narrative in the effort to visually document the full extent of the annexation of Palestinian land and the destruction and appropriation of its culture.
Manal comments on the source of inspiration for her work, “An imaginary thread stretches between two worlds in conflict. It pulls me and I pull it; a thread of light and darkness, of beauty and violence… An ancient image passes through our veins and voices, the image of that first man who killed his brother and buried him in the most beautiful spot on earth.”