This work was part of the ongoing project “Searching for the New Dress” 2021. It was added to our exhibition Politics of (Un) learning alongside FILMS FOR A FREE PALESTINE and works by Ninan Kolowratnik and Boudur Khalil.
Palestinian embroidery was historically affected by the movement of women who practiced it. In turn, it reflected their conditions, especially in moments of crisis. For instance, the ‘Camp Dress’ or the ‘New Dress’ is a Palestinian embroidered dress which emerged when women from all over Palestine were suddenly mixed within camps in the neighboring countries, namely Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon, during the aftermath of the 1948 Nakba. The researcher, collector and historian Widad Kamel Kawar named the ‘New Dress’, which was ‘born of camp life and resistance’.
This research-based project looks at Palestinian embroidery in Shatila, a Palestinian camp in Lebanon. It explores how embroidery is influenced by the migration of Syrian Palestinian and Syrian women who took refuge there after the war in Syria. To create ‘New Dresses’ that reflect the socio-political, economic and demographic changes in the embroiderer’s life in the aftermath of the Syrian revolution, I will learn to design new motifs and types of stitches which are usually associated with Syrian embroidery. The research also involves interviews with embroiderers in various embroidery centers in Shatila, identifying designs that reflect the changes in Palestinian embroidery. The project asks, what if a ‘New Dress’ emerges after the Syrian revolution, the destruction of the Yarmouk camp – the capital of the Palestinian diaspora –, and the displacement of thousands of Syrians? How would it look like? Which fabric, colors, threads and techniques would be used? Which political slogans and maps would it have?
‘Searching for the New Dress’ is supported by AFAC & Culture Resource.