Zain Al Sharaf Wahbeh uses archive images and personal testimony in a deeply personal depiction of the demolished Palestinian neighbourhood of Al-Manshiyya
Zain Al Sharaf Wahbeh
Royal College of Art
There was a deeply personal component to Wahbeh’s work on the site of Al-Manshiyya, a ‘lost’ Palestinian neighbourhood of Jaffa. Subject to 'Zionist' demolition, post-1948, the aim of her ‘Image as an Archive’ project was a ‘restorative cultural practice, virtually reconstructing the (site’s) most relevant vernacular components’, all drawn from archive images and personal testimonies. Detailed and delicate delineation of window grilles, shopfronts and furniture aim to ‘raise awareness of the untold Palestinian narratives that remain largely understudied in mainstream academia’.
Alongside judges Rory Chisholm, 2021 Eye Line winner (practitioner), and Niall Hobhouse trustee, Drawing Matter, Ana Luisa Soares, co-founder, Fala Atelier, found herself identifying with the work’s compelling flatness. Kester Rattenbury, professor of architecture and cities at the University of Westminster, called it ‘a project filled with spectacular content [with] surreal and exceptionally beautiful images.’ Wahbeh’s success in reimagining a personally intimate vernacular through the lens of absence, as if humans have just left the scene, gives the work strange and poignant power.