Jerusalem-born Larissa Sansour is one of the most well-known Palestinian artists working today, and her films and images have been exhibited around the world.
In this interview with the Institute for Palestine Studies blog, Sansour discusses food, archaeology and myth, and how science fiction can help us to think through Palestinian politics.
One of the works she discusses is her project Nation Estate (2012), an image from which is pictured here. Sansour envisions a dystopian architectural solution to the problem of creating a Palestinian state in an ever-shrinking Palestinian space:
With Israeli settlement activity confiscating more and more Palestinian land, it struck me that for a Palestinian state ever to materialize, one would have to think vertically. This thought was the starting point for the Nation Estate project. In Nation Estate, Palestinians finally have their state in the shape of a single skyscraper housing the entire population. Each city has its own floor: Jerusalem on the third floor, Ramallah on the fourth, Bethlehem on the fifth, and so on. Aiming for a sense of belonging, the lobby areas of each floor reenacts central squares and landmarks, the elevator doors on the Jerusalem floor opening up onto a full-scale version of the Dome of the Rock.
Sansour’s high-rise solution recalls Israeli architect Eyal Weizman’s ‘politics of verticality’ (Hollow Land, 2007), of which he describes Jerusalem as an ‘intense case study’.
While Sansour imagines Jerusalem as one floor in a tower block, Weizman discusses a proposal made by Bill Clinton at Camp David for vertically-divided ownership of the Dome of the Rock, where the area would be partitioned imaginatively into Palestinian, Israeli, and United Nations-run segments.
Sansour’s work confronts her audiences with the question of whether her science fictional scenarios are necessarily more absurd than the Palestinian reality.