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'Absurd-City, Subver-City'

To allow reconstruction within Gaza, in 2014 the UN agreed the temporary Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism (GRM) with the Israeli and Palestinian governments. The system brought in aggregate, cement and steel-bars (known as ‘ABC’ materials); many other materials such as steel beams are classed as ‘dual use’ materials and are hence restricted by the Israelis.

Gazagram is a fictional app that uses triggers within the new community centres to project augmented reality exhibitions. It takes inspiration from Gazans passion for smartphones, social media and the internet, which allow them to connect with and learn from a world they cannot physically access.

Finite City offers community incubators to support residents who return to rebuild their homes by providing waste disposal, electricity and clean water. The project aims to invert pockets of urban destruction into moments of opportunity, thereby retrospectively inserting vital public space into an overcrowded, unplanned city whose citizens cannot leave.

Two kilometers off the coast of Gaza, a series of steel rebar monoliths teeter, chime and sway above the surface of the Mediterranean Sea. These ad-hoc towers anchor a symbiotic axial system of energy production, fishing industry and ‘land extension’ that link with and directly serve the major urban areas of Gaza. The elements of the scheme can be divided into one of two distinct functions: the compliant (visible) and the subversive (submerged). Building on the narrative of ‘the Sea as a form escapism’, the Seaports of Gaza aim to expand the everyday realm, creating an otherworldly terminus of commerce for the inhabitants of one of the world’s most confined regions.




Area X is a new unconstrained municipality that lies in Kafr Aqab, a neighbourhood that sits within the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem, suspended between Ramallah and East Jerusalem. Within its boundaries lies an animated house that tackles the issues of the Israeli absentee law. Vulnerable to fall under full Israeli jurisdiction since the law has now been implemented, the theatrical approach of absence and presence within Area X marks an illusion to Israeli control by disrupting the system of the loss of identity and home.  

Following the introduction of this law in December 1995, the Interior Ministry of East Jerusalem have revoked the residency of Palestinians who moved outside the municipal boundary, dictating that a change in permanent address results in the loss of Jerusalem residential status. Constant military checks of homes take place, requiring Palestinians to prove that their ‘centre of life’ is in Jerusalem under the absentee law. 



The work tries to bring attention to the ‘absent’ Qalandiya with its contradictions and possibilities. Stepping away from the ‘familiar’ image of Qalandiya today -- experienced through the Separation Wall, the refugee camp and the checkpoint. The attention is directed towards the divided village with the memories it holds and the environmental crisis caused by the stone quarry. Through series of illustrations time is frozen to critique the economic and ecological exploitation of the land. 




Agrarian Arcadia is an imagined scenario that subverts the borders around Gaza. It is a polemic against the shifting ‘buffer’ and ‘no-go’ zones, which in 2014, covered over 40% of the area of the Gaza Strip. In order to subvert the siege, the focus is on empowerment via self-sustainability, with special attention placed on the security of food and water resources. By reclaiming the agricultural lands that are within these high-risk zones, the short-term reliance on the border is eased while an epic strategy is prepared.

The project’s ambition is therefore to imagine a new collective socialist structure that contrasts current constrains. These mechanical fields become a palimpsest for the polemic, reflecting the tenacity of Palestinian people. 



As a response to the controversial Museum of Tolerance built by the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) on the ancient Mamilla Cemetery, these digital paintings propose series of archives, libraries and museums to recreate a ‘landscape of lost property’ dedicated to generations of Palestinians in the West Bank and diaspora abroad. This is symbolically returned to the heart of Jerusalem, where they cannot be.

Designed as a flooded landscape, the project gains greater poetic meaning as a reflection upon the incredibly vulnerable socio-political fate of the Palestinian state. Water; fluid/ neutral is the antithesis of territory/ terra firma, a concept that has lost all physical and symbolic meaning in the Palestinian situation.  The theme of vulnerability permeates the scheme and becomes the overarching design intent in the cemetery where even in death, one can never return to a permanent resting place or home.



‘Take Off’ is a zero-gravity zone located on the sea of Gaza to allow the Gazans to ‘fly’ despite the entrapment that has been enforced on them by destroying their airport and seaport.

The imagined possibilities between land, sea and air suggest moments of irony in which Gazans can travel through wind-tunnels in a spaceship-like experience to a new horizon beyond earth. It is a space that responds to their aspirations to fly, float and dream, and yet also mark their right of movement.

Individual Projects

Procession is a sculpture questioning how we look at history through a filter of the present. A mixture of archival and contemporary transparency images, many showing Palestinian processions from the early-20th century, was fitted to used-plastic drainage tubes retrieved from builders’ rubble.


‘The Logic of the Birds’ was inspired by early-20th century photographs of an old Palestinian procession showing people moving freely across the land from Jerusalem to a shrine near Jericho. Wanting to work collaboratively to consider the use of open, public space, led me to devise this project as a public processional performance in the landscape. The title of the performance/film is from a 12th-century Sufi poem. Working with young actors from Ramallah, the performance/film was staged close to the Jordan Valley, on a major trajectory for bird migration as well as a route inscribed by journeys of pilgrimage, exile and return. 






It has been a century worth of waiting for Palestine and a lifetime of waiting for the Palestinians. The refugees wait for the right to return home. Gazans wait for the electricity. Commuters wait on checkpoints. Fishermen wait for their right to the sea. Daily life is all about waiting: people wait for clean water, food supplies and all the other basic necessities that humans require on a daily basis. A perpetual state of waiting… If the conditions persist in four years time, Gaza will no longer be inhabitable.

The aim of this installation is to raise awareness of the criticality of the situation. The ‘machine’ is a metaphor for waiting and a representation of the context. As the pendulum hits the wall, it wears off the surface bit by bit. The question is how long could this last?



Addressing the problems of community detachment in Palestine along with both its physical and notional obstacles, to popular representation, the project aims to re-calibrate the issues of the people as a unity in conjunction with the disputes pertaining to its physical territory. The Athenian Agora is used as a thinking model to investigate a new architectural proposition. The map of the agora is drawn by extrapolating and superimposing historical and geological data, as well as by plotting the routes of migratory birds to create an ever-expanding time-based digital archive that will be transferred and safeguarded away from the vanishing Palestinian landscape; simultaneously a physical archive will reclaim its archaeological significance to the Palestinian civilisation.



Inspired by the (un)told stories of the journeys of Syrian refugees, the work here with its series of illustrations seeks to project the voices of the Syrians and people who have a close connection with the country to share the stories they have.

Syrians have many traditions, two of which are the traditions of storytelling and preserving. Storytelling is seen to be the most powerful means of communicating a message. The storyteller, or Hakawati, was traditionally a central figure in Syrian society. Throughout its 300-year existence, the Al Nofara café in Damascus’ stone-built Old City has always had a Hakawati who told stories in evening gatherings. The last remaining Hakawati of Damascus is a 65-year-old man and people are worried that the tradition of storytelling will die with him. This project therefore seeks to preserve the tradition of storytelling that so many Syrians hold dear to them.




Nasser Golzari, Yara Sharif and Murray Fraser (PART) in collaboration with Shahmeer Khan & Adhitya Pandu

This an interactive installation inspired by ordinary objects used by Palestinians to hold on to their right to the land and prevent their stories from being lost by continuous’ looting’ of their history/memories. It suggests a subversive medium to narrate and preserve building on the contemporary obsession with digital media today, whereby the number of text messages received and sent daily exceeds the population of the world.

The Digital Garden utilises the ‘digital cloud’ as an additional means to reclaim the right of the land and narrate the stories of the Palestinian diaspora. The device is made of three individual pieces when put together they form the Whispering Soil. While one piece contains a physical soil sample from the land, the second will contain hair and nail sample of individual citizens as DNA proof. The third piece contains the narrative in a digital format saved onto a USB device.


After 67 years of refuge, the other Palestinian space, the Palestinian refugee camp, as both space and people, represents a crucial element of analysis and investigation within the larger Palestinian narrative, especially that it constitutes an accumulation of years of continued oppression, destruction, and re‐construction. Yet, Palestinian camps have overwhelmingly been presented as either passive sites of international aid, or conflictual sites of Palestinian political scrutiny. This has led to continuous manipulation and misrepresentation of the Palestinian camp, and a stripping away of the fascinating narratives of resistance, resilience, struggles and adaptability that the refugees have built over decades of refuge. It is those intimate narratives, on intimate scales of the larger camp, which need to become visible. The work here unpacks these layers in the aim to develop a new kind and scale of dialogue.



In Assemblage, archive footage from the British Mandate period in Palestine shows the raising of a British observation balloon, a metaphor conjuring up both release from the land and the mapping of it in the establishment of territory through the process of reconnaissance, or surveillance. The archive footage has been overlaid with a montage of sounds from religious orders. At times the sounds seem to almost imitate or respond to each other, confusing identities, whilst also transforming the kite balloon from war machine to a prophetic apparatus of the sublime.




In Reel the disrupted residues of film have been selected – the lead-ins and endings of film with music composed by Johann Johannsson called Kaene byr til engli. The music brings to the images an intensity and spiritual dimension evoking the sensual and sublime that is found in the spaces disregarded by the more declarative ways of making sense of the world.  The scuffing and scratching from handling film material; black cue dots, overexposing at the end of the reel, numbering or logging marks evokes all that is not seen in the documentation of history.


White Oil is a single screen film that excavates a number of narratives around the quarries in the Occupied Palestinian Territories of the West Bank. White Oil explores the way the quarries are not just industrial spaces in which labour and excavation of raw material take place, but lived spaces by unfolding narratives around colonialism, expropriation of land and mobility through the day-to-day lives of the quarry owners, workers and security guards. This includes their personal histories and experiences as well as the changing landscape and conditions of the quarries bringing to bear the myriad losses of land, economy, identity, history and community.



In an imagined scenario to rethink the return of the Palestinian refugees and the reclamation of their land, this project takes the absurd realities of today to their extreme. Playing the role of the architect as well as the cynical role of the real-estate developer, the land is sliced into equal parts. The work is a provocation to the current conditions of division and fragmentation suggesting some practical yet impossible scenarios.



The areas surrounding the Mediterranean Sea have been a place of complex systems of ideas, ancient cultures and religions. Today, these waters represent hope, exodus and a passage to the unexpected.

The continuous interaction between sea and earth can lead to an aggressive dialogue and a constant act of claiming space from each other, resulting in the formation of uncertain and shifting boundaries.

Not far from the current situation in Palestine, the unchoreographed movement of the sea is non-static and unpredictable and it can be interpreted as a change of equilibrium, an imbalance and in some cases a violent invasion. It is characterised by an improvisation and instability of an indefinite duration.

Observing and representing the movement of the sea is part of the process of understanding it. The role of boundaries becomes vital during this journey. Where does the sea stop moving?



I believe that one of the roles of contemporary artists is to record the signs of their times and to communicate that reality to their audiences. During a period of four years, and since the beginning of the First Intafada, the Palestinian uprising, I have been searching for the method/medium with which to record the raw dialogue appearing on the walls of Gaza, between the Palestinian different factions, and between Palestinians and their Israeli occupiers.

The dialogue on the walls of Gaza is a method of communication resorted to by   Palestinians.  Very different from the graffiti known in the west, and in the absence of any mode of communication, completely banned by the Israelis, such as newspapers or television, it has become the only method of self-expression and communication left to them during a ruthless and destructive occupation indifferently observed and ignored by ‘the civilized world’, and still in place.


Four performers (two male voices and two female voices) will be standing amongst the audience, performing a piece which is a hybrid of poetry reading/choir/a play with layers of voices creating cinematic soundscape. The video projection will be a simple image to reflect the narrative and to mirror the relationship between audience and performance – making the ‘visible’ invisible, and vice versa. The wide shot of the performers and the audience will be filmed (possible from high view point) for streaming, with the sound generated by performers and any sound picked up by the pin microphone. Some of the performers might move around but only slowly to create a ripple for the streaming footage and the visual side of the performance depends on how the audience reacts to it.

Qi London 2016 Booklet Image.jpeg

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