Ahlam Shibli, 1999
Description of a personal voyage in nine volumes that are a visual documentation based on looking again and again at Wadi Saleib—the place and the time. Wadi Saleib—the neighbourhood whose heart is empty of people, whose houses were emptied of their occupants—is now occupied by ghosts.
The ruins looked to me like witnesses to human and intimate occurrences. Ordinary events to some of us, to others they became the key; clues to break a code.
I have seen, retraced, and perpetuated the past in the present. l brought light into dark spaces so that they were placed in focus and turned into a stage.
I scattered light to wake up the heroes from their sleep. A printing machine, an open suitcase, a shopping bag, a writing desk, a shoe, light blue on green paint or peeling yellow on the wall, lost things that were thrown away—hinting at a state of deportation, the last moment of action, of body movement, touch and use. These items received new life and their souls were restored.
Watching again, going over the area, I catch with my eyes objects and things and bring back from my memories, in detail, richer periods that I have been through in my life. My memories expose the possibility to memorize the others. I staged and placed people in the present that create a story with the inspiration of the place. I see in front of me the dwellers of the place, memories contained by those objects that I photograph.
Photographs that are an awareness of memory, reviving the residents of the place. The place itself, its being and its special smells.
The volumes develop from the birth of a story out of a printing machine, thrown out in an abandoned house. They consider love, touch, hair being braided, entering and leaving, break-up... throughout a back and forth between reality and fantasy.
The end of the stories is marked by a symbolic death that is born from an actual death.
Wadi Saleib in Nine Volumes: