Suha Alkuhaimi

"Fluid Narratives"

Section MS5, Lilly Markaki

Keywords: archive, water, history, nature, colonial studies

Fluid Narratives adopts a decolonial approach to resource occupation in Palestine, challenging anthropocentric and capitalist perspectives that perpetuate the exploitation of natural resources, notably water. The project focuses on the Israeli occupation of Palestine, which has led to asymmetrical access to water, exploring the historical backdrop of colonisation in Palestine and emphasising how these events shape perceptions of space and time.

The occupation began in 1947 when Israel expelled over 750,000 Palestinians, destroyed 531 Palestinian cities, towns, and villages, and committed up to 155 massacres in an attempt to create a Jewish State. This occupation was enabled by a UN resolution in 1947, expanding Zionist-held territory by almost ten times and resulting in the expulsion of 80% of Palestinians from Palestine. Presently, nearly 100% of Palestinian water goes to illegal Israeli settlements. Military Order No. 158 (November 1967) prohibits Palestinians from constructing new water installations or maintaining existing ones without a military permit, while Military Order No. 92 transfers authority over all water resources in the occupied territory to the Israeli military. Additionally, the selling price of water in Israel increased from $4-10 to $8-20 after October 7, 2023, exacerbating the existential crisis regarding access to fresh water. Displacement in Palestine has disrupted both human and non-human actants, with water serving as a material witness to environmental degradation, pollution, and the violence of occupation.

Through a digital collage inspired by political surrealism, the artwork visually narrates the story of water occupation in Palestine, depicting the dual nature of perspectives around the occupation. The diptych format underscores the duality of perspectives around occupation, exploring themes of inequality, displacement, and excessive resource extraction across time. The project aims to create a narrative highlighting the ongoing challenges Palestinians face in their struggle for a sustainable and equitable relationship with their environment.

Drawing inspiration from artists such as Mariam Ajami, Shahzaad Raja, Sara Shakeel, Dionne Lee, and Nidaa Aboulhosn, the collage incorporates images of the Jordan River, aquifers, olive tree planting, punctured water tanks—keys symbolising expulsion, contamination evidence, and relevant statistics. These images position water as the work’s protagonist, suggesting its role as material witness of conflict in Israel/Palestine. A continuous water flow between the collages symbolises the ongoing nature of the issues despite increased knowledge and social awareness. Fluid Narratives aims to evoke emotions and tell stories that transcend straightforward representation, offering a visual exploration of water occupation and its implications on the Palestinian people and their environment.