An exhibition by the botanical department of "The Palestinian Museum of Natural History and Humankind,” Khalil Rabah's ongoing inquiry into the ways in which history is socially constructed through embedded material in identity and culture. Founded in 1995, the Museum sets out to disrupt iconic representations of Palestine. This long-term conceptual project is polymorphic, atemporal and has many iterations in various sites worldwide.
Using different methodologies, Rabah reflects on, and engages with, themes of displacement, memory, and identity, examining the relationship between humans and their surroundings, as well as the nature of global human condition.
“The story of the project goes back to 1995, when the museum participated in a group exhibition at the United Nations in Geneva and decided to transfer five olive trees from Palestine to the gardens of the UN headquarters. The five trees were planted in the gardens of the UN and were inscribed with distinct marks... Coloured embroidery threads that evoke the process of plant grafting,which produces hybrid varieties... The idea was to see whether these trees would become naturalised in Switzerland and what would happen to them... Twelve years later we returned and found only one tree; not in the gardens of the UN, but in the Geneva Botanical Gardens... The museum sued the UN at an attempt to find the rest of the trees.
That was in 2008, and since then the search for the four trees has been ongoing. This is why we raise the issue today… the staff of Darat al Funun discovered several marks on the olive trees in their garden. They are the same marks that were left on the trees that went missing in Geneva... Coloured embroidery threads wrapped on five trees... What does this all mean? Why did they come to Darat al Funun? Where had they been the past 10 years?” - Khalil Rabah