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Landscapes of Desire

My drawings from the series Landscapes of Desire are inspired by the ruins of Palestinian villages and homes that were destroyed during and after the 1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestine. The images allow me to reflect on an ongoing effort to annihilate a Palestinian culture that refuses to disappear and an indigenous people that refuse to be swept away. Drawings of the ruins of stone homes from devastated Palestinian villages such as Kafr Bir’im, Lifta, Al-Bassa, A’mka and Kuikat are a declaration that in the face of looming cultural annihilation, the persistence of memory is a crucial act of political resistance and cultural survival. The images are rendered with ink and rubber stamped words. The repeated stamping of the words defines the forms, textures and tones of the landscapes. Most importantly, the repeated words employed to construct the drawings become a visual mantra, compelling us to “remember,” “resist,” “return,” “rebuild” and prepare to “forgive.” I view forgiveness as one of the most challenging, yet the most critical final stage of a successful non-violent resistance campaign waged by the Palestinians against their occupiers. Although the struggle is far from over, to maintain the moral high ground while cultivating a sustainable future of co-existence, the Palestinians must prepare to forgive the Israelis while compelling them to acknowledge their violations and reflect deeply on their responsibilities. History teaches all who have suffered or continue to suffer under the tyranny of an oppressor, that without cultivating an emotional state of forgiveness the victims risk becoming the monster they wish to destroy. Inspired by lessons of forgiveness preached by Jesus of Nazareth, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, I invite the viewer to reflect on the words of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, whom I am paraphrasing here: Without forgiveness, there can be no tomorrow. John Halaka. October 2010

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