Sumud: Art and struggle in the village of Al-Araqib
About the village:
The village of Al-Araqib is an ‘unrecognized’ Bedouin village in the northern Negev desert of Israel, located just 10 km to the north of the city of Be’er Sheva. Being unrecognized by the state means it has to make do without any basic infrastructure, It is unconnected to water, gas, or electricity grids and does not enjoy education or medical facilities. The villagers purchased and inhabits the lands since the period of Ottoman rule.
Starting already in 1951, the state of Israel has been using in all sorts of ways to expel the villagers from their lands, as part of a broader policy to concentrate the rural Bedouin population of the Negev in a handful of designated urban areas and free the lager territory to state use. This has been done among others by spraying their lands with poison, uprooting their fruit orchards and planting other trees instead, establishing a Jewish settlement in the near vicinity. In the case of Al Araqib, In 2010 the state intensified its steps and began systematic demolitions of the village homes. The Bedouin villagers, for their part, have adopted a method of nonviolent resistance they call "Sumud," the closest translation of which would be steadfastness, or ‘to hold one’s ground’.
SINCE 2010 the homes in Al Araqib have been demolished about once every month but the inhabitants rebuild them anew. At the time of writing, the village has been demolished 197 times, but rebuilt 198 times. In doing so, the village of Al Araqib has become a symbol of the Palestinian Bedouins’ wider and long-term nonviolent struggle for the preservation of their lands, livelihood, and dignity.
The art center / the Sumud center
The opening of the “Sumud Center" is a joint initiative following 6 years of artistic collaboration between Aziz Alturi from the village and the artist Einat Weizman. A group of artists was formed "Artists in solidarity with al-Araqib" in response to the destruction of an exhibition of paintings in the village. A few months later, it was decided to inaugurate the "Sumod Center" in the village. Sumud is the term in Arabic for steadfastness- one of the ways of nonviolent resistance. This center is not a place, nor can it be a building, because the buildings in the village are being demolished. The Sumod Center is an idea. An idea in which artists support through their artistic works the common struggle for the liberation of the Negev from the colonialist land regime. Each time the center hosts a different artist who leads a project in the village. The pieces are in most cases demolished along with the houses. The artists are only supporting actors in this struggle- respond to it, participate in it and get inspired by it. For us it is a Sumud school.
The art works:
Al Arakib Embroidery Adam Uriel in collaboration with Meirav Weiss, Liora Ginat, Sabah Abu Madiam, Eliaa Abu Madiam, Hakma Abu Madiam, Said Abu Madiam, Fahad Abu Madiam, Miriam Abu Madiam, Sujud Abu Madiam Muhammad Abu Madiam, Fatma Abu Madiam and Aziz al-Tori.In this 26-meter-long work, echoing the Bayeux Tapestry from 1077, while giving a voice tothe conquered rather than singing the praise of the conquerors, residents of Al-Arakibdescribe their memories and dreams through the traditional Bedouin visual medium ofembroidery.