Visual Artists’ News Sheet | September – October 2023

Manal Mahamid, ‘The Palestinian Gazelle Project’, installation view, Manjm Haifa Culture Lab, 2017; photograph by
Mohamed Badarne, courtesy of the artist.
Manal Mahamid, ‘The Palestinian Gazelle Project’, installation view, Manjm Haifa Culture Lab, 2017; photograph by Mohamed Badarne, courtesy of the artist.


I AM CURRENTLY in the final stages of completing my thesis for an MA in Cultural Policy and Art Management at University College Dublin. Concurrently, I am thrilled to be actively engaged in a captivating residency hosted by Leitrim Sculpture Centre.
As an artist, I believe that identity goes beyond conventional categories like nationality, religion, or gender; that’s why I find a great fascination in exploring the diverse conceptual aspects of identity. My current focus lies particularly on examining the lives of Palestinians who reside under Israeli occupation. In my artistic practice, I delve into themes that are part of my daily reality,
particularly the intersection of landscape and identity.

For example, during a family visit to a zoo in Kiryat Motzkin, in the Haifa District of Israel, I discovered that in the signage, an animal was described as a ‘Palestinian gazelle’ in English and Arabic but as an ‘Israeli deer’ in Hebrew. To my surprise, I also discovered that the Palestinian gazelle was amputated. This scene struck a deep emotional chord in me, as metaphorical image of the gazelle’s struggle and the challenges we face as Palestinians under the oppressive occupation. It also triggered childhood memories of a picture of a deer, which hung in my parents’ living room, and set me on a path of research and exploration.

Through my research, I discovered the deep-rooted importance of the gazelle in Palestinian and Arab culture. The animal permeates various aspects of daily life, from food, tea, and sweets to folk music, literature, and placenames. I also found that the Arabic term, ghazal, carries connotations of
beauty and flirtation, and has close connections with the Palestinian landscape, history, and culture.

I set no limits when it comes to choosing the right medium for each project. Sculpture, video, installation, drawing, photography, printmaking, and collage are all essential artistic processes. However, moving image has emerged as a powerful medium for me in the Palestinian gazelle project, to
depict the visually divided and geo-politically fragmented Palestinian landscape. This takeover of the landscape is an act of decolonisation. It monitors the physical barriers, checkpoints, and cultural divides imposed on our people, allowing me to tackle these pressing issues, challenge prevailing norms, and break through forbidden boundaries.

My artistic exploration delves into the ecological consequences of colonialism on the Palestinian landscape. Growing up amidst the breathtaking hills of my rural village, I witnessed the displacement of Palestinian communities, replaced by Israeli settlements. The fragmented landscape,
with its checkpoints and barriers, acts as a metaphor for the fractures within our society. Through my art, I aim to shed light on the impact of political forces on our concept of home, and the profound interconnectedness between our land and its people.
Since I moved from Haifa to Dublin in 2020, amid restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, I have been exploring the artistic scene in Ireland, and have gained momentum, particularly as I approach the end of my master’s studies. I have been engaging in the art scene in Dublin, working on some projects, undertaking a residency in Leitrim, and planning an exhibition that I will be announcing soon. Additionally, I am working on a project to participate in the Dubai International Art Fair. Currently,
one of my works is on display at the Qattan Foundation in Ramallah.

Manal Mahamid is a multidisciplinary
Palestinian artist currently based in