Strewn across wire hangers, twelve-square-foot embroideries intersect and zigzag across the exhibition space. .
Each ‘window’ , its motifs, stitches and patterns, represent a central region of Palestine: Upper and Lower Galilee, Jaffa, Ramallah, Bethlehem and Jerusalem, Hebron, the coastal strip of Gaza and Central Gaza and Beersheba in southern Palestine. Following a tradition from mother to daughter for centuries is passed, each panel provides an insight into the heritage of Palestinian art embroidery, one of the enduring and tangible aspects of Palestinian culture.
Each panel was been carefully planned by Malak Abdul Rahim and highlights decades of research of Palestinian handicrafts, embroidered by the finest embroiderers of Inaash. Mona Hatoum carried out this work work in collaboration with the Lebanese initiative Inaash (Association for the Development of Palestinian Camps), a non-governmental organization that provides Palestinian women in Lebanese refugee camps an opportunity to practice their traditional embroidery techniques, and safeguard the art-practice and cultural memory they exercise. Each region of Palestine developed distinct patterns, passed on from mother to daughter, for centuries. "Twelve Windows" stands in remembrance of these distinct cultural identities, and their relationships.
However, Hatoum has folded in staggered, and bisecting wires that hold each embroidery piece via cloths pins. To view each piece the viewer must navigate both the visual and physical obstacles each panel provides. In chorus with the rest of the exhibition, allusions to threatening schisms and rifts are made…
The last image is a piece called Reflection which sits adjacent to 12 Windows. Reflection is another delicate work that plays upon transparency and lightness. A photograph of the artist’s mother sewing, taken in 1948 in Beirut, is printed on three layers of tulle. This technique gives the impression of three dimensions and movement; the subject seems present, just as it fades away.
*Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find any english coverage of the exhibition she is showing this work in, and so I’ve had to rely on google translations of several german and swedish texts. Consequently i’ve had to rely on some heavy grammar and content edits by myself. If anyone can translate the original exhibition text and press release into english or arabic, please do so!