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Identity = health
الهوية = الصحة
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Half a decade before the Covid-19 pandemic، Gaza-born artist Mohammed Musallam created a face mask based on the traditional keffiyeh textile. The conceptual artwork could be seen both as an expression of Palestinian identity and as a means of protection; caring for identity is as important as protecting health itself. It was first used in Gazan hospitals under the Israeli occupation’s siege. Impossible at that time to foresee the impact of Covid-19; this face mask shows the power of artistic imagination. The artwork did not lose any of its meaning; just the contrary.
Gaza’s potentially disastrous combination of widespread impoverishment, densely-packed refugee camps and extremely limited hospital capacity make us even more aware of the catastrophic impact of the Israeli occupation and how fragile life can be. Caring for each other is more important than ever.
Under Musallam’s supervision, the new masks were produced in Gaza City by tailor Abu Alaa Ghaben; to be worn for your safety and as an act of solidarity.
Read review in The Art Newspaper, June 2020
- Mohammed Musallam (PS)
Mohammed Musallam was born in Gaza in 1974 after his family had been dislocated from the historic Palestine as a consequent of the 1948 war. He holds a PhD in philosophy of Fine Arts, Painting Department, Fine Arts College, Minia University, Egypt. He currently resides in Gaza and works there as a lecturer of “Painting and the History of Palestinian Arts” at the College of Arts, Al Aqsa University. From his first steps as a university student he became greatly influenced by the abstract art processes and approaches. In his Art, he focuses on portraying a range of humanistic issues, which go beyond the limitations imposed by any prevailing time-related matters, which may be oppressive and persistent simultaneously. At the same time, he concentrates on conveying the notion of the preservation of our humaneness amid the harshness of our environment as one of the most important reasons for our existence.
- Abu Alaa Ghaben (Gaza, PS)
Carpenter living in Gaza City.
Multi layered face-mask (front side keffiyeh textile, backside white cotton) with elastic straps, washable & reusable
19 x 9 cm
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Available seeds at Disarming Design from Palestine:
— Abu Samara (wheat)
— Bamyeh / Okra (ladies’ fingers)
— Molokhia (Jute Mallow)
— Sabanikh (spinach)
— Yakteen (gourd)
— Zinnia Sabella (flower, edible petals)
— Bitinjan (Eggplant)
On top of the political violence, Palestinian farmers also face the dangers of agribusiness with its corporate seed production and land dominance. But many of these farmers are the heroes who have been safeguarding the precious seeds, and the knowledge that these carry. Palestinian Heirloom seed varieties are under threat; many have gone extinct. These seeds have been passed down to us over the centuries, and carry in their genes the stories and the spirits of Palestinian indigenous ancestors. Aside from their cultural significance, these seeds carry options for our future survival as we face climate change and the erosion of agro-biodiversity worldwide. As such, it is urgent that we save heirloom seeds, and propagate them.
Founded by Vivien Sansour, the Palestinian Heirloom Seed Library project seeks to preserve and promote heritage and threatened seed varieties, traditional Palestinian farming practices, and the cultural stories and identities associated with them. Based in the Village of Battir, a UNESCO World Heritage Site outside Bethlehem, the library also serves as space for collaborations with artists, poets, writers, journalists, and other members to showcase and promote their talents and work. Working closely with farmers, the Library has identified key seed varieties and crops threatened with extinction, and provides opportunities to inspire local farmers and community members to actively preserve their bio-culture and recuperate their local landscape.
The library has also launched a global platform for conversations about bio-cultural heritage. Its Traveling Kitchen is a mobile venue for social engagement in different communities, promoting cultural preservation through food choices.
Established 2014, Bethlehem, Palestine
Learn more about the Palestinian Heirloom Seed Library and the work of Vivien Sansour on this website.
For more on Abu Samara, listen to this song dedicated to the wheat by Zaid Hilal: Abu Samra أبو سمرة حبة القمح .
- Vivien Sansour (PS)
Vivien Sansour (Palestine) is a believer in the magic of the simple things in life. This magic represented in her work where seeds and soil are brought to life through her practice as a conservationist and writer. Vivien feels at home in the fields where farmers plant their seeds and share their stories. In her practice, Vivien combines the work of conservation with the sensory world of image and sound. She works with farmers around the world to find and reintroduce threatened crop varieties, and collects stories to assert the ownership of seeds by communities and not companies.
Vivien was born in Palestine and grew up in Bethlehem. She does not live in one particular place as her work takes her to different communities around the world – from Palestine, California, Central America and the Caribbean. She is the founder of The Palestine Heirloom Seed Library and the Traveling Kitchen project, both initiatives aim to bring seed heritage back to the dinner table so we can, “eat our history rather than store it away as a relic of the past”.
- Daleen Saah (PS)
100% Palestinian heritage seeds
harvest 2020, packed in 2021
10 x 15cm (size of package, including seeding information inside)