The Royal College of Art is a partner in a major four-year research programme, including an Artist Residency co-funded by Creative Europe and the RCA. After an extensive selection process Noor Abuarafeh was invited to London. A Palestinian artist living and working in Jerusalem, Abuarafeh questions how history is constructed, shaped, visualised, perceived, and understood; how all these elements are related to fact and fiction, and the possibility of imagining the past when there are gaps in documentation.
Noor Abuarafeh’s research focused on the whereabouts of works by Palestinian artists from exhibitions that took place in Europe in the last century, and particularly from an exhibition in 1919 held at the Imperial War Museum in London. Lost, overlooked, displaced, or hidden, these artworks and the process of finding them act as a metaphor for displaced people and those who are marginalised – a constructive reclamation of history in part intended as an act of reconciliation, contextualising the present in the past.
The outcome of the residency was an art book entitled ‘Rumours Began Some Time Ago’, a response to the question ‘how can we document what is absent?’
The residency was curated by Michaela Crimmin, Reader in Art and Conflict, RCA and 4Cs UK art director. With our thanks to Delfina Foundation for hosting Noor’s residency in London, to Hilary Roberts, Research Curator of Photography at the Imperial War Museums, and to Jack Persekian, director of the Al-Ma’mal Foundation for Contemporary Art in Jerusalem.