Beneath the visible national territory of Jaffa-Tel Aviv lies the contested urban arena of Al-Manshiyya. This long-forgotten neighbourhood offers a layered playing field of territorial tug-of-wars, paramilitary clashes, punitive demolitions, and gentrified overwrites. Because Al-Manshiyya has faced a rigorous urban evolution under the Zionist occupation, between 1948 to the present day, it best exemplifies some of the most autocratic practices of cultural annihilation in Palestine.
The Image as an Archive, by artist Zain Al-Sharaf Wahbeh, therefore comprises of a partial architectural reconstruction of this now-absent territory in the North of Jaffa.
Throughout the initial phase of this project, the artist compiled a wide-ranging archive using a wealth of fragmented research, ranging from scarce photographs to personal testimonies collected from interviews and schematic drawings, which were ultimately materialised through architectural and documentary tools.
Derived from the 1948 Palestinian Nakba, the project’s definition of catastrophe stems from the Zionist erasures of Al Manshiyya’s infrastructure, land, and culture. To confront these erasures, this project defines the archive as a system that renders visible what has been purposely made invisible under the Zionist occupation. In doing so, The Image as an Archive aims to address Al-Manshiyya’s destruction from the regional to the material scale, by enabling its audience to experience the neighbourhood’s vernacular past through contemporary modes of visualisation.
By restoring the Palestinian collective memory in Al Manshiyya’s urbanity, this exhibition wishes to challenge its ideological erasures that were sanctioned by the Tel Aviv Municipality throughout the 1940s and 1960s. It is committed to promoting a public multicultural discussion with which to document and raise awareness to the untold Palestinian narratives that remain largely understudied in mainstream academia.