From Here, From There - an exhibit in al-Ma'in
The exhibition “From Here, From There” curated by Eitan Bronstein Aparicio was exhibited in the "White House" gallery, which is the last house left of the Palestinian village of al-Ma'in, on 25.7.2019 - 3.8.2019. About 110 people visited it, most of them from the kibbutzim living on the land of al-Ma’in: Nirim, Nir Oz, Ein Hashlosha and Magen. Twenty of the visitors wrote a message to the refugees from the village and put it in a special box for this.
The exhibition presented al-Ma'in's story for the first time to the Israelis living on its land and were never exposed to it, according to their reactions during the exhibition. The history of the village was brought by refugees of al-Ma’in and various village sites were identified and presented with new signs. In addition, the exhibition presented a number of attempts to overcome the violent fragmentation of space by Israel. The separation between Israel and the enclosed Gaza Strip has been challenged in several creative ways.
The reactions of the visitors ranged from anger and disbelief to excitement, compassion and interest. Men usually rejected the history presented in the exhibit with disrespectful and distrustful of the Palestinians’ testimonies and adhering to the Israeli narratives such as "the British, not the Palestinians, built the houses and the wells around", "there was no significant settlement here," "the village area could not be so large (55,000 dunam)" "The exhibition is distorted and brings only a partial picture," "The Palestinians along with the Egyptians attacked us here and left when they were defeated in the battle.”
Women (mostly) expressed great interest and excitement following what they learned from the exhibit. Some were surprised to hear the story of al-Ma'in and thanked for bringing it to them for the first time. Here you can read all the messages and here are two examples of them:
This project is unprecedented in bringing the untold story of the Nakba to the Israelis living in the heart of ignorance and denial. Compared to many projects we have done on the Nakba in the past, in which the participants supported the effort to acknowledge the Nakba as part of the our history, the exhibit at al-Ma’in brought the Nakba to the heart of Israeli settlement on Palestinian land expelled in '48.
Hence the strong reactions of the visitors, on the one hand defensive and rejecting and on the other surprised and moved.
In fact, the visitors to the exhibition were an integral part of it as they were not visitors "without agenda”, as is often the case in art galleries. In this exhibition, the story presented directly relates to the collective and personal identity of the Israelis living on the lands of al-Ma'in.
Here an article on Mondoweiss by Dr. Salman Abu Sitta, a researcher who was born in al-Ma'in.
Here watch an excellent video report on the exhibit by the Social TV.
What I’ve seen here today was very moving and even painful. In spite of living here more then 35 years I feel the need and the hope to return to the land and revive it with the past emotions, to revive it with the culture and habits of yours, the residents.
A land is not a brick. A land is value, is roots, is a love to a place. There’s no room for deportation. My heart is with you.
Efrat Katz, Nir Oz.
I reach out in peace. I hope to meet and talk with people from al-Ma’in. Only by the the exhibit by Eitan Bronstein I was exposed to the history go this place.
In the name of Krotenberg family from kibbutz Magen.”