02: in lands akin to yours - SS19

they told us you were ours
yet i saw the light for the first time
in lands akin to yours
close but not yours
they told me when i could open my eyes
that you were full of wonder

Extract from Civil fatigues by Palestinian poet Hind Shoufani

The Beginning
When Donald Trump decided to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, I felt a kind of betrayal. And a fear of erasure. At a time when so many around the world are waking up to the injustices suffered by the Palestinians, this felt like an attempt to erase yet another part of their identity. From food, to clothing, to dance, the war on the culture is as complete as the war on the bodies of Palestinian men, women and children.

Around the same time I met Yazan at an Afikra salon discussion in London. These are salons organized to reignite curiosity in the Arab world and its culture. I found out that Yazan was going through the process of doing archive work through his Imagining the Holy, a research project supported by grants from the National Geographic Society and AFAC (all images belong to the National Geographic Society). I became entranced by the project’s Instagram account, a window into pre-1948 Palestine, which itself has become a contested space. He was building it as a project that would serve as a documentation of the Palestinian Identity, a population that existed and lived in its homeland for centuries, and that cannot be erased.

The Process
The process of archiving these photos and using them as inspiration made me think of identity and how those who seek to conquer and dominate don’t just use physical and financial power: their strongest tool is the erasure of a group's identity. This is not only done by taking the land they live in, but also by erasing their history, not allowing them to practice their religion freely, not allowing them to produce and eat their food and most importantly by appropriating and/or erasing their culture references. Erasing an identity.

I started to focus in on particular photos and began my design process for ‘in lands akin to yours’ there. It is an extension of the work I started with Zero One, reimagining Arab traditions for the modern world.

In this collection, I am working on actively undoing the work of erasure. Each piece emerged from the deep study of a particular archival photo from pre-1948 Palestine. The choice of fabric was informed by elements that also are rooted in the land.

All fabrics are 100% Italian and Belgian linen and 100% Spanish cotton.

All the fabrics were part of unsold stock at failing factories in Europe and were in danger of being thrown out and ending in landfills. Through a sourcing deal with a Lebanese importer we were able to save them.
As with every collection, construction of every garment is designed to minimize leftover or wasted fabric.
All Nour Hage collections are produced in a small factory in the hills above Beirut where Syrian and Lebanese tailors work ethical hours and are paid fair wages.

The Shoot
: Zed Josef is a British-Swiss-Lebanese actor.
Athier Mousawi is a British-Iraqi artist.
Photographer: British-Lebanese writer and producer Nasri Atallah
Location: The Hackney Wick studio of Lebanese illustrator and calligrapher Joumana Medlej

Thanks to George Rouhana and Sammar Lababedi for additional help