Samira Badran | Nablus, Illuminated by the sun
Palestinian visual artist and animation film director based in Barcelona. Art installations, drawing, engraving, ink and watercolor, painter.
Samira Badran, arab visual artist, palestinian visual artist, arab women artist, arab animation, arab short film director, palestinian painter, film making, drawing, etching, middle east contemporary art, contemporary Arab women artist, female Arab artists, art of the Palestinian diaspora, Palestinian artists in Europe, arab women artists now, artists of MENA region, collective memory art,
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Nablus, Illuminated by the sun

Installation

Illuminated by the sun, a homage to my father, the artist Jamal Badran.

Permanent installation at Jadet Badran, Onion Market-Nablus

Between Ebal and Gerzim. Cities Exhibition – 3rd Edition 2011. Birzeit University Museum.

 

My relationship with Nablus has a deep emotional connection with the figure of my late father Jamal Badran. He was the relater and transmitter of the imagery of the old city: its unique heritage, architecture and important history. When I visited Nablus, for the first time, I perceived the city through his eyes. Jamal Badran was an artist and an expert in Islamic arts and crafts. He played a decisive role in preserving Islamic arts and crafts in the whole region during his entire life. One of his major projects was to restore and recreate the drawings of Al-Minbar of Al-Aqsa mosque after its destruction in Jerusalem. He displayed mastery in the design of Arab-Islamic decorative patterns and in the art of calligraphy on a range of materials, including: leather, parchment, paper, fabric, marble, stone, tiles, Hebron glass, mosaic, plaster and wood.

 

My installation is a homage to his art. With the metaphor of a huge  lamp shade illuminated by the sun, and following his steps, I carved by hand an arabesque design and a geometric pattern inspired by his work using a Kufic calligraphy to inscribe a poem by Walid Al-Kilani.

In the past, public spaces were a splendid reflection of the artistic and handicraft culture of the place. Nowadays, due to the occupation and the economic situation, this aspect is nearly nonexistent. I want to recreate these aesthetics in the market, where the soul and the authentic essence of old Arab cities is strongly represented. One of the characteristics of Arab markets is the use of colored textiles hung over the old narrow streets so that pedestrians are shielded from sunlight. In this fascinating and genuine setting of light and shadow, I will hang my installation on Badran Boulevard. A vivid, ephemeral installation, based on light and shadow and related to the physical space where time will leave its traces; transforming the landscape yet at the same time bearing testimony to the city. The projection of the light will change continuously in density and shape, depending on the angle of the sun, and the shadows will move over the people walking down the aisles and up on the walls, eventually immersing the entire area below with a carpet of abstract designs. This intervention will be integrated and will remain there in order to form part of the vocabulary of the urban elements that already exist. But it will also have a visual connection to the Islamic heritage of the city as well as a daily reminder of my father, the artist Jamal Badran.

“Are you from the Municipality?” A young guy, a vegetable vendor, who occupies the space where Samira wanted to install her canopies, approached us as he saw us examining the space. “No” Vera answered warmly and with a smile. “A Palestinian artist from Nablus will install new canopies above your stand that she made of cut out arabesque designs.” Nablus’s narrow streets in the suks and markets are covered with layers of make-shift canopies made from all sorts of collected fabrics, plastic sheets and corrugated zinc sheets. “That artist is Samira Badran” Vera continued, “she originally comes from this quarter- Jadet Badran and her father Jamal Badran is the one who re-constructed the designs of the minbar of Salah al Din of al Aqsa Mosque when it was burnt in 1969 by an Israeli settler.” The guy seemed not to know anything about the incident nor about Jamal Badran.

As all the dignitaries and people were rushing through the Onion Market at Jadet Badran during the opining tour of the exhibition in Nablus, the same young vegetable vendor stops the crowd to proudly explain Samira’s work. “This is the best thing happening to this place since as far as I can remember. The canopies are beautiful and most of the other vendors are so envious. Can she make more”.

Fragment from the catalogue of the Exhibition “Between Ebal and Gerzim” By Vera Tamari and Yazid Anan