Bitter Things: In the name of an orange. 

multimedia installation, 2024 

Powder-coated Metal kitchen structure, 20 ceramic orange sculptures, 6 videos on clay, video projection, soundscape, photography collage, concentrated bitter orange juice, marmalade, orange blossom water, clay.

Bitter Things is a multimedia installation of a kitchen through which I write stories of oranges, of bitter oranges from the museum's frontyard, to the sweet oranges from Jaffa. A storyline goes from ancient times to histories of wars and occupation and how they all found their way to my body.

When an orange became a kitchen, it became a story of light, clay, and fire, infinite glasses of juice concentrate, and jars of sweet, bitter orange marmalade. Bitter Things is my father's story of an orange growing in his garden, an orange from Jaffa.

A raw clay landscape spills from the kitchen of Bitter Things, expanding beyond it like a shadow. Six videos* are staged in different manners on this landscape, the videos look at the traditional Andalusian and Levantine methods of harvesting and processing bitter oranges, while intertwining the imagery with tales of wilderness and dispossession. Engulfed in the clay landscape, are around twenty ghosty ceramic sculptures of Shammouti Jaffa oranges, whispering of a time once been.

* Filmography by Lourdes Cabrera, featuring La Fresnedilla collection in Cordoba. 
**excerpt from Mahmoud Darwish’s poem, Lover from Palestine.

Comissioned and produced by TBA21 , displayed at Ecologies of Peace exhibition, curated by Daniela Zayman, Centro De Creaction de Andalucia, Cordoba. 

Asking the wisdom of our forefathers:
How can the ever-verdant orange grove be dragged
To prison, to exile, to a port,
and despite all her travels,
Despite the scent of salt and longing,
Remain evergreen?
I write in my diary:
I love oranges and hate the port
I write further:
On the dock, I stood
watched the world through winter’s eyes.
Only the orange peel is ours, and behind me lay the dessert.**

Part of the installation of Bitter Things, serving as its backgroung and soundscape, is Interrupted Biographies, a video I created in 2014. It attempts to highlight an almost forgotten period of history when the borders between Palestine and Lebanon were permissible, a period that made it possible for my mother and father to meet and start a family. This work is a visitation to incidents in my family history, where the ever-shifting possibilities and impossibilities of politics intervene in Lebanese and Palestinian family members' choices and choices thay politics dictated onto them. 

At an adjunction space, two red photography collage works are on display, one of archival document from 1946 addressing the losses the Palestinian orchard farmers  suffered from during the Second World War. After the 1948 Nakba, most of the Palestinian owned orange groves were taken by force by the new Israeli state.

The second collage, displays spreads from the first histography book on Yaffa written by a Palestinian, one of the spreads is  a recollection by Najat Bamieh one of my family members, written in 1987, about her life in Jaffa before Nakba, the loss of their house, and their forced exile along the rest of Bamieh family members, a very touching testimony weaving the city into oranges and the losses it bared with the forced exile of its inhabitants.

Through this combination of mediums and techniques I try to build a visual spatial language that expands history into materiality, highlighting the value of the lived and the intimate.