Spring-Summer '22 Facing The Forests
Every year thousands descend on Israel’s national parks and nature reserves. Locals and tourists alike hike through lavish forests, taking in pines that reach up to the sky, which stands in actual contradiction to the yet painful history that lies just beneath those beautiful trails and tracks...
Every year thousands descend on Israel’s national parks and nature reserves. Locals and tourists alike hike through lavish forests, taking in pines that reach up to the sky, which stands in actual contradiction to the yet painful history that lies just beneath those beautiful trails and tracks.
Atop these landscapes, where flora and fauna now roots and thrives, once stood nearly a hundred of Palestinian villages. History that tends to get forgotten throughout the beauty of the land. However, the destruction of Palestinian population, society and homes is widely unacknowledged as such; Across these forests, parks and reserves, visitors witness ruins of houses scattered into pieces throughout the entire land, detached from its real context, un-named, un-marked, unacknowledged. About a fifth of all the Palestinian villages that have been depopulated and destroyed by the Israeli forces in the 1948 Nakba have been standing where forests now grow; The question remains how one can turn a blind eye to something they yet not only viscerally but also physically encounter, not provoking feelings of guilt towards a history that not only seems to be forgotten but rather purposely ignored.
Our spring Spring-Summer ‘22 grasps upon the remaining question and of this highly sensitive topic, seeking to stress and to highlight the issue of an underlying guilt that goes hand in hand with avoiding the above described history. The collection’s theme strives to challenge the blind eye being turned at the real nature of the parks and reserves. This idea is inspired by A.B Yehoshua's book (1963) carrying the same title, ‘Facing the Forests’.
Seeking to dive deeper into not only the problematic past but its endurance into present times, the collection is inspired by the underlying stories of those forests aiming to face history to provoke responsibility and thought taking on this troubled topic;
Above those lands, pines and other trees stand tall in present times, most of which are of imported non endemic species, planted in millions by the JNF-KKL large-scale afforestation “project”, with the goal to cover once Palestinian now occupied landscapes with trees. This act of planting trees or merely entire forests, may seem for the inexperienced eye as an altruistic one. However, the so-called “plant a tree in the holy land” campaign had been used for over a century as a means of creating a deeper sense of connection to the land among Israelis and jewish people across the country and the entire world.
A malicious tactic which can thereby be viewed as a campaign with an oppressive nature in its means of hiding and moreover covering the past, present and also future. Such campaigns use nature as a form of occupation and displacement by seemingly conserving and preserving land. This act is protected by discriminative laws, as those lands have been nationalised by the State of Israel. Throughout the country, national parks encompass vast swaths of land, stretching from the sea to the desert in the south, to the mountains in the north. The JNF-KKL is operating under the status of a charitable NGO, while in fact it enforces and conceals a painful past and present. Up until this day it dispossesses Palestinians from their lands and agricultural life.
The topic is as relevant as ever; the truth can never fully be hidden; in passed year׳s summer month of August a wildfire raged in Jerusalem’s hills and has ravaged 25,000 dunams of dense KKL-JNF european pine woods, laying bare a long-hidden breath taking landscape of Palestinian agricultural terraces, unique to the region. The fire exposed lands of Palestinian villagers who’s villages were destroyed by the Israeli govnerment during 1947’-48’ Al Nakba. This serves as a blunt reminder for the denied crimes of the past and present.
It seems as though nature is fighting back the erasure of the land. The KKL-JNF continues its expansion atop confiscated Palestinian lands to this very day. In the month of January ‘22, the JNF project for afforestation in the Naqab (Negev) on top of important agricultural Bedouin lands, where the local Bedouin communities plant and grow their wheat and grains fields. This resulted in demonstrations and rallies, a call for officials to seize these discriminatory actions, which eventually ended in extreme and disproportionale police brutality against the Bedouin community*.
The Spring-Summer ‘22 “Facing the Forests” collection seeks to shed light on these subjects, with the hope of fostering a better understanding of this sensitive and painful subject. Species from the natural kingdoms found throughout Israel/Palestine and in tandem with a few more of different habitats, decorate the collection in a series of digitally printed drawings created in collaboration with Nicholas Williams of “Small Talk” studio. Natural woven fabrics, applied garment dying and stone washing techniques all take inspiration from the natural tones and textures of the wild. Patterns and techniques, originating from the Palestinian villages depopulated and destroyed where the parks now stand, are embroidered into the “Facing the Forest” collection.