Re-rooting — rediscovering a bygone era

Works on display at Darat Al Funun, part of the exhibition ‘Re-routing’. (Photos: Darat al Funun’s Facebook account)
While most exhibitions have gone digital, Re-rooting did not. Its vast array of subtle, elegant and restrained constellations brings revelation, solace, and inspiration to the multitudes of other valid perspectives in observing our connection to the earth, our literal roots.اضافة اعلان

Rolling out across the beautifully renovated buildings of Darat Al Funun-The Khalid Shoman Foundation, the exhibition, which opened its doors on March 1, remains open for visitors till June 30.

It investigates the reasons for people’s current separation from the land through a number of projects featuring Jordan’s most pressing crises: agriculture, water, food insecurity , and waste of land, and unveiling a continuous narrative reel of time, memory, disappearance, theft and erasure.

“They play on predicted and imagined futures to reflect on the loss of resources, land, seeds, knowledge, power, and agency. Within this ‘earth memory’, we are learning about the power of indigenous practices and knowledge, as well as storytelling and mythology, in providing cues to alternatives for reversing the current state of ‘unlivability’ characterized by exhausted geographies, imposed scarcities, unjust economic systems, and an irreversible degradation of natural landscapes,” an exhibition statement says.

The exhibition curated by Rana Beiruti; it features the works of over 20 established contributors with different art backgrounds, different approaches and different styles.

The exhibition is arranged over halls spanning the several buildings of Darat Al-Funun, in a distinct yet cohesive and harmonious mise-en-scène, which shows the visitors what once was and what might soon become.

The tour starts at the Ghorfa, which hosts the Taghmees Social Kitchen’s “Learning Soils” which is a series of films building a path of learning rooted in life, a celebration of diversity and abundance, and a way of life that contradicts the dominant narrative. Outside the Ghorfa, there is an installation of sheep feeders that showcases the diminishing grasslands due to urbanization, and how shepherds are increasingly reliant on supplementary feeding, which puts a strain on farmers’ autonomy, animal health, and the environment.

Moving into the main building, the exhibition depicts Jordan’s relationship with its primary staple food, wheat, once an integral part of the culture that is now on the verge of disappearing. It also features works of other Levantine indigenous crops that are becoming critically endangered, such as wild pistachios, junipers and goldilocks, a plant that thrives in the heat and drought of summer, epitomizing the life that persists even in the harshest and driest of times and places.

The exhibits also depict the attempted erasure of the Palestinian indigenous connection to the land as a result of settler colonialism, as opposed to the original Canaanite tradition which saw trees as sacred. These installations shed light on the thriving citriculture of Jaffa, which was in full bloom prior to the British Mandate and the subsequent Israeli settler colonialism.

Other installations explore how food becomes a form of resistance and resilience, and how cooking and eating becomes a performative act of the memory’s power and intransigence.

The Blue House houses several works on water-politics, such as Nadia Bseiso’s “Infertile Crescent” saga, which illustrates what happened to the “fertile land” which once was the cradle of civilization, the paradise of biodiversity with its marshlands and rivers that shaped the progress of humanity now dry and burnt in turmoil.

The first chapter explores the Salvation Pipeline: Red Sea-Dead Sea, the 180-km route of the controversial pipeline, while the second chapter delves into the complexities of Jordanian geopolitics through its northern border, where traces of fertility are drawn in its rich landscapes.

“The exhibit is different from what I thought it would be. It was eye-opening as I did not know half of what is displayed. The art works portray the story of this region,” a visitor said while leaving the exhibition.

It is hoped that the visual representations and high artistic sense exuding from this exhibition will lead to community interaction and help preserve the earth’s resources for future generations.

When history, heritage, art, the environment, and eco-activism are enmeshed in color, it is difficult to tell where one begins and the other ends.

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