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The existence of the non-existence

Emily Jacir

Emily Jacir 的藝術關注那些被消失、被遺忘的事情。

美籍巴勒斯坦裔藝術家 Emily Jacir ,把故鄉被消失的故事通過藝術呈現出來。關於以色列與巴勒斯坦之間都以「衝突」概括,衝突中包含家庭、土地、歷史及各式各樣的突然消失。於2012年上一屆的卡塞爾文戲展,Jacir 將六千本藏於耶路撒冷國家猶太圖書館中,被標籤為「棄置財物」(Abandoned Property) 的書,做成作品 ex libris。這六千本書原屬於巴勒斯坦圖書館、學校、機構甚至是個人,後來被以色列據為已有並聲稱這都是被拋棄的書。

ex libris 是藏書票,前人愛在書內的首頁,寫或刻上自己的名字,以示擁有該書之意。Jacir 將這六千本被迫遺棄的書以攝影記錄下來,然後造成裝置藝術,更將當中的藏書票內容,翻譯成英語及德語在卡塞爾市中心不同地方展示。


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Emily Jacir’s artwork pays attention to things which have suffered enforced disappearance or have been forgotten.

Emily Jacir, an American-Palestinian artist, uses art as the medium to present stories of hometowns which suffered involuntary disappearance. She describes things between Israel and Palestine as “conflicts”, which include the sudden disappearance of families, land and history, among other things. For the previous documenta held in Kassel in 2012, Jacir created her work, ex libris, making use of 6000 books designated as “Abandoned Property” in Jewish National Library. These 6000 books used to be the property of Palestinian libraries, schools, institutions or even individuals; however, they were looted by Israel, which claimed that they were abandoned books.

Ex libris means bookplate. In the past, people loved to write or inscribe their own names on the inside front cover of books to indicate their ownership. Jacir made a record of these 6000 abandoned books by taking photographs of them and turned them into installation art. Furthermore, she translated some of the inscriptions into English and German, and exhibited them in various locations in Kassel’s city center.

This book belongs to its owner Fathallah Saad. He bought it with his own money at the beginning of March 1892

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Emily Jacir, AP 3852 from ex libris, Translation and painted mural, 25 x 50 ft., Alexander and Bonin, New York, 2014. Image: Joerg Lohse

To a dear friend and great research historian Omar Effendi Barghouti. A gift of respect and appreciation from the author Aref il Aref


(Left) “A gift to the Chamber of Commerce of Acre, 27 Rajab 1359 (30/8/1940), signed Abdullah al-Qeeshawee”. Alexander and Bonin, New York, 2014



Ownership was eliminated. Despite being on their own soil, Palestinians live a life similar to that of refugees, becoming refugees in their own land. Israel set up barrier in the West Bank, citing homeland safety as the reason. This wall separated land originally belonging to Palestine. Even more ridiculously, there were universities, personal residence, and hospitals being divided into two by the wall. For this reason, there are inspection checkpoints between classrooms, wards and livings rooms, and those who want to pass through need to present their identification document. That is how ownership was forced into disappearance.

This reminds me of Calvino’s novel The Nonexistent Knight. The knight in the book has armor but no body. “Nonexistence” does not refer to not being seen. It is only that when “non-existence”strives to confront “existence”, “non-existence” falls into the void because of ignorance, poverty and commonplace occurrences.