Through a documentary aesthetics, Ahlam Shibli's photographic work addresses the contradictory implications of the notion of home. She had a solo exhibition at Darat al Funun in 2010, and her work was part of several other exhibitions. Shibli exhibited twice at documenta, in 2007 and in 2017.
"Exhibited together at the artist’s first solo show in the Arab region – ‘Why did you leave the forest empty?’, held in 2010 at Darat al Funun in Amman, Jordan –, Arab al-Sbaih and The Valley construct a visually poetic and historically complex account of the divergent effects of the Israeli occupation on the present-day Palestinians living either under Israeli rule or in exile."
"Arab al-Sbaih and The Valley eloquently attest to Shibli’s interest in presenting visually the impact of al-Nakba on the Palestinian people, especially those pushed off the map. The photographs capture and reveal a present condition of history; one that given the particular circumstances of Palestinians involves exposing a state of being that is in the constant turmoil of resisting erasure and suppression. In this way, the role of narrative assumes a charged importance. This is enhanced by the artistic choice to exhibit the photographs in groups. Certainly, when Arab al-Sbaih and The Valley share an exhibition space they tell of the divergent effects of al-Nakba. In the case of the refugees, the community is structured around the memory and its documents of Palestine and the visual imagery and social details of pre-1948 Palestine. In the village of Arab al-Shibli, the presence of the Israeli occupation structures life – its landscape, architecture and street signs. Significantly, as Shibli’s work reveals, those differences are reliant on the very notion of territorial location and the struggle to carve out an existence within the current circumstances. In The Valley, Ahlam Shibli conjures up the landscape to whisper the history of al-Nakba and its ubiquitous presence in the present. In Arab al-Sbaih, these stories are told through the community and its social practices, particularly that of naming."
- Excerpts from 'The Past Present - Arab Al-Sbaih and The Valley' by Sarah Rogers
Ahlam Shibli - Go there, Eat the mountain, Write the Past: The Valley, Arab al-Sbaih, Goter, Exhibition Catalog, published by Darat al Funun-The Khalid Shoman Foundation and Ahlam Shibli, 2011