This project constructs a para-fiction around the history of Palestine. Invoking a blue land ravaged by colonisation, it describes a dazzling geological phenomenon: vast quarries of raw indigo. Through a series of distortions, fictions and counter-histories, the work is a critical engagement with the uncertainty that pervades Palestine's borders, topologies and geopolitical status. It concentrates a state of ambiguity into a poetic delusion. As such, the land itself becomes a vessel for the imagination:
For centuries, Palestine was bright blue. Indigo ran through the earth in rich mineral deposits. This geological phenomenon attracted colonial interest, leading to the industrial extraction of raw indigo. Since the beginning of the Indigo Wars (1919-present), Palestine has witnessed a prolonged conflict over its mineral resources. This has caused a widespread bleaching of the landscape.
Today, only one indigo mine remains in Palestine. It is owned by a denim factory, Al-Aqqad & Partners. For many years, this company supplied jeans to leading international brands including Marks & Spencer, Diesel and Jordache. But since 2006, its client base has been restricted to the Israeli consumer market.The land is almost completely white.
- - -
In producing this work, I collaborated with the employees of Al-Aqqad & Partner Fashions, a denim producer based in Nablus. I learnt that for six months, the factory had operated under the immediate sightline of an Israeli tank: its cannon pointed directly at the factory. To understand the physiological effect of these labour conditions, I commissioned the factory to manufacture jeans that represented what it was like to manufacture jeans under these conditions. As such, this work intersects the production of consumer objects with the production of history, examining the subjective distortions that take place in each process.
Interview on ICA blog
Artforum critic's pick
Review on Frieze
- - -
Commissioned by Delfina Foundation / British Council / Art School Palestine
Presented at ICA (London), 37th EVA Biennale (Limerick) curated by Koyo Kouoh.