The three exhibitions displayed in the Here in This No-Here project charts a multilayered journey along a continuum stretched across the past, present and future of Jerusalem’s Qatamon neighborhood. This journey seeks to articulate a new conception of the space in Qatamon, one that not only includes the biographies of the urban Palestinian space relegated to oblivion since the Nakba of 1948, but also constitutes a space of potentialities, enabling us to imagine spatial, political and symbolic options for materializing the right of return.
Until 1948, the Arab House, that has recently become the object of Jewish architectural and real estate cravings devoid of all historical and cultural context, represented for the families in the neighborhood a space for creating a new life. Theirs was a cosmopolitan lifestyle, characterized by multiple language, and the house became a place to host guests at leisure, a venue for political and intellectual discussions and encounters from across the Arab world of that time. The fate of the neighborhood dwellers was tied with the fate of the house: those who spent their lives in it, planned it, dreamt or wrote about it, suffered a violent upheaval and turned from natives to refugees almost overnight. The three exhibitions are hosted in houses where absence and presence coexist most intensively, where untold history will be turned from absence to presence. This is an invitation to translocate the Arab House into a place, a history, with human stories and faces.
“Humans live not alone”, claims the text arising from the mural in Imagined Qatamon: Channels”, an exhibition by artist Raffat Hattab. Here, looking into an imagined future is a metaphor for a possible future of return and shared space. This imagining is also invoked by the structuring of the Quranic Surah of Sincerity as an infinite, universal object that disintegrates into abstract wooden particles that recast the mythical text in a new and secularized interpretive form.