nothing is set in stone (narrative intifada)
MCBA Outlook Gallery
On view March 3, 2020–April 26, 2020
Free and open to the public
Leila Abdelrazaq is a Palestinian author and artist born in Chicago and currently living in Detroit, Michigan. Her creative work primarily explores issues related to diaspora, refugees, history, memory, and borders. Nothing is set in stone (narrative intifada) examines history as a series of stories that are either lost or solidified in time through repetition, power, and oppression. In Palestinian iconography, stones are considered sacred because they are tied to the land. They are also used as tools for resisting oppression. When an unarmed Palestinian hurls a stone at a heavily armed Israeli soldier in riot gear, it is a symbolic act of defiance against militarism and colonialism, pointing to an imbalance of power using materials of indigenous land. Leila has created an installation of hand-drawn images of Palestinian protesters and paper stones to address a discarded and forgotten story.
“We tend to treat history as if it were a natural phenomenon, a singular story that is ‘set in stone,’ so to speak. But in fact, histories are stories that are written by people. In this piece, I have created stones made out of homemade paper clay to ask questions about how history is written, drawing attention to the fact that although all histories are, in many ways, invented, that doesn’t mean that those histories are not valid or useful tools. It also means that histories are never ‘set in stone’–they can always be re-written.
So what does it mean if the stone that is thrown is man-made, if it’s not natural, but invented? Does that make it any less powerful? Does that make it less indigenous? Or does the fact that the stone is manmade lend it power and indigeneity?” – Leila Abdelrazaq
Leila is co-founder of Maamoul Press, a multi-disciplinary collective for the creation, curation, and dissemination of art by marginalized creators whose work lies at intersections of comics, printmaking, and book arts. Her debut graphic novel, Baddawi (Just World Books publishing) was shortlisted for the 2015 Palestine Book Awards and has been translated into three languages. She is also the author and Illustrator of The Opening (Tosh Fesh, 2017) and several zines and short comics.