Ballad of the lady who lives behind the trees

Jumana Emil Abboud2005/2014

la Biennale di Venezia - Biennale Arte 2015

la Biennale di Venezia - Biennale Arte 2015
Venice, Italy

Jumana Emil Abboud
Born in Shefa-amer, Galilee, in 1971.
She lives and works in Jerusalem, Israel, and Palestine.

Born in Palestine and raised in Canada, Jumana Emil Abboud first studied art at the Ontario College of Art in Toronto, and then returned to her homeland, earning her BFA degree from the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem. From the beginning she has used drawing, video, performance, objects, and text to navigate themes of memory, loss, and resilience. In her work, she poses questions related to memory as read through the body, home and homeland, cultural ritual or practice, and through folklore, folktales, and storytelling. She uses icons and archetypes, geography and language, as both visual and textual tools. Abboud’s work consistently reflects a Palestinian cultural landscape in which the struggle for continuity amid the wider political context necessitates a constant process of metamorphosis and ingenuity.
Her video installation The Pomegranate (2005), for example, expresses the notion that a true return is not possible. In a tight close-up on her hands against a stark background, the artist films herself trying to put all the grains of a pomegranate back into their peel, but in the end the fruit bursts, leaving her hands dripping in red juice. In her drawings highlighted by paint, her watercolors, and her installations in various formats, she also conveys the idea of bursting, of fragments, of hybridization enhanced by the mystical and the sacred, where innocence interacts with chaos.
For the 2015 Biennale di Venezia, she presents two bodies of work, Night Journey and Landscape, which gather notes, drawings, and paintings in a sensitive and rhizomatic dialogue to create a unique cosmogony. Because the artist is profoundly attached to her native land, women and landscape are her protagonists. The earth and its invisible resources, its hidden stories, are at the heart of her concerns.


  • Title: Ballad of the lady who lives behind the trees
  • Creator: Jumana Emil Abboud
  • Date Created: 2005/2014
  • Rights: Courtesy the artist, Photo by Alessandra Chemollo; Courtesy: la Biennale di Venezia
  • Medium: forty-one drawings and mixed media on paper

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