at the lab
We Won’t Leave

9 January – 30 June 2024

Experts say the war on Gaza is now among the deadliest and most destructive in recent history, far surpassing the death toll and displacement inflicted by the Israeli Occupation during the Nakba of 1948—this by the “most moral army” in the world.

We Won’t Leave is a text-based installation by artist Suha Shoman that confronts the war waged on Gaza by the Israeli military, as well as the war on arts and culture unfolding around the globe. It is an archival art project unfolding on the walls of The Lab at Darat al Funun, presenting a visualisation exposing the de-humanizing and criminal rhetoric that has led many to call this war a genocide.

The installation captures the war on Gaza as a moment in the trajectory of a 75-year settler colonial project that continues in complete defiance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

It highlights the shocking rhetoric used by Israeli generals to "Obliterate, Eradicate, Annihilate," as well as "Statements by Israeli Leaders 1948-2023," in which they deny the existence of the Palestinians and describe them as beasts. It also underscores the war on culture launched against Palestine, listing the names of artists, curators, cultural activists, and journalists from Palestine and around the world who have been targeted, silenced, or threatened for expressing their support for Palestine or for opposing the suppression of Palestinian voices and art. Furthermore, it lists the destroyed cultural venues, archaeological sites, and heritage sites in Gaza to date.

In addition, a historical section features a video of a lecture by historian and researcher Professor Professor Walid Khalidi on the origins of the Nakba, as well as a book, Palestine the Martyr, 1921-1938, which archives atrocities by British and Zionist forces against Palestinians. A poem by Mahmoud Darwish, Those Who Pass Between Fleeting Words, that parts the viewer, echoes the words "We Won't Leave", written on the remains of a destroyed home in Gaza. Together, they embody the collective determination and steadfastness of Palestinians in the face of ongoing attempts at their erasure.

The installation is a call to action for all cultural institutions worldwide to unite in solidarity, amplify Palestinian voices, actively engage with Palestinian artists, and share resources while speaking out against the atrocities committed against the Palestinian people. This is the first in a series of programs, talks, workshops, and activities that will continue contributing to this archival project, inviting collaborators, historians, researchers, curators, and cultural activists.

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