02:36 min video, 99 olive pits, off-white silk thread, acrylic cube
My family’s ancestral hometown of Nablus, Palestine is historically esteemed for its rich olive trees, a product at the root of the community’s most valuable and versatile creations. Some of the world’s oldest olive trees, dating back 4,000 years, reside in Palestine. The majority of the olive harvest is used for the production of olive oil, while the rest of the harvest is used to make soap and supply table olives. After a meal, the pits of the table olives remain - these are cleaned and repurposed into prayer beads, or a misbaḥa.
My father recalls making prayer beads in his grandfather’s garden as a child in Nablus, scraping both sides of the olive pit on the stone walls of the garden’s perimeter. In this 2-minute video performance, I demonstrate an imitation of this method to make one misbaḥa. This misbaḥa, viewed under the display cube, is reconstructed using silk thread, strung with 99 olive pits; these olive pits represent the 99 names of God in Islam and are used to aid with keeping count of one’s recitations while in meditation.
My work focuses on reclaiming and recreating objects that relate to my heritage as a Palestinian-American; I revisit historical narratives to reveal new understandings and to preserve a memory from a disappearing era.