I’m Still Alive – Maisara Baroud

I’m Still Alive
Maisara Baroud’s murals by Mohammad Sabaaneh, Fuad Alyamani and other Artists

18 April - 23 June 2024
Zawyeh Gallery, Ramallah
 

After losing his home and studio in Gaza City in October, Maisara Baroud began drawing his diaries under the devastating Israeli genocidal war. He hasn’t ceased drawing since losing his “personal little world” to destruction, along with all his paintings, tools, books, and precious memories. Through his paintings, he documents displacement, brutal bombardment, the fear of loss, and the anxiety of protecting loved ones. Baroud says, “I draw to tell my friends that I am still alive.”

Baroud systematically shares his black-and-white diaries on his social media pages, creating a continuous exhibition of documentation and protest. Due to the impossibility of exhibiting his works in other parts of Palestine, Zawyeh Gallery collaborates with Mohammad Sabaaneh and other artists to overcome this obstacle. Together, they transfer Baroud’s digital works onto the gallery’s walls, turning what seems impossible into a reality – an exhibition in Ramallah showcasing a Gazan artist’s diary six months into the ongoing genocidal war in Gaza.

Baroud is captivated by the black-and-white dichotomy, he employs unique techniques, to capture the essence of human suffering as an outcry that carries a mixture of sadness, grief, anxiety, weakness, hope, and a quest for freedom. Baroud says, ”Since the beginning of the war on Gaza… I have aimed to document, through my eyes and work, the details of the war. My drawings became a message to friends, telling them that I am still alive… Through my diary, I documented stories of destruction, loss, death, weakness, displacement, hunger, pain, patience, resilience, and breakdown… The occupation has destroyed everything beautiful in my small city, leaving things trapped in a distorted memory beneath the rubble. Like others, I have become displaced from Gaza to the south for the tenth time, navigating the narrow space in an attempt to escape death, seeking lost safety, and fleeing genocide.”

Baroud and Sabaaneh collaborated on selecting the works and techniques to transfer the paintings onto the gallery’s walls. Sabaaneh, who has previously collaborated with Baroud on other artistic projects, joined this endeavor to break the siege during this critical time of genocidal war against Palestinians. Artist Fuad Alyamani among others including Rahaf NatshehSalsabeel Anabtawi, and Dania Omari also joined this initiative, aiming to amplify Gaza’s voice.

Sabaaneh says, “My previous experience with drawing inside prison may relate to Maisara’s current exhibition. For me, drawing was a space to escape beyond the prison walls, in a journey that consisted of creating works and thinking about how to smuggle them out through another prisoner once freed. It’s details like these that defeat the jailer through practice. “He adds, “To declare that Maisara is still alive is a declaration that we are all still alive too. So, we don’t become neutral in this genocidal war targeting and annihilating Palestinians physically and spiritually, we decided to participate in re-drawing Maisara’s paintings in Ramallah, playing the same role of a
prisoner smuggling another prisoner’s paintings out of prison. Our collective desire is to be alive, not dead, in neutrality.”

Running until June 23, 2024, the exhibition will eventually see Baroud’s works wiped from the walls, highlighting the project’s impermanence and the transient nature of the war, hoping for an end to the occupation nightmare one day, as “no condition is permanent.” The exhibition serves as a tribute to Baroud and Palestinians in Gaza, recognizing their harrowing experiences amid the ongoing war.