In Homeland Lost Alan Gignoux juxtaposes portraits of Palestinian refugees with photographs of their former homes or villages in what is today Israel. The photographs for Homeland Lost were taken from 2003-2005 and featured in solo and group exhibitions internationally from 2006-2011. Homeland Lost was produced with funding from the British Council in East Jerusalem. A Middle East tour was made possible by the AM Qattan Foundation.
“How did Palestine look, what was the light like, how did the birds sound?”Omar al-Qattan, Filmmaker and Trustee of the AM Qattan Foundation.
Palestinians refer to the events leading to the creation of Israel as al-Nakba – the catastrophe. The phrase emphasises the suffering caused by dispersal, exile, alienation, and denial. The older generation in Alan’s photographs long for lost houses and villages and for communities, orchards, olive groves, and the more abstract “homeland,” holding on to keys, maps, and entitlement cards as symbols of ownership, loss, and hope. Younger Palestinians, raised in refugee camps, have never seen their ancestral homeland and can only imagine what it must be like.
Alan’s photographs of the refugees’ former homes record the transformation of the former Palestinian landscape. Many of the villages, razed during the way to discourage return, have fallen into ruin. They are either overgrown with weeds or obscured by forests of pine. Where homes remain, they now house Israeli families, or have been converted to different uses. Towns and villages have been renamed.
“Homeland Lost is ultimately about linking people and places. The individuals in this book were displaced from their homeland more than sixty years ago. Here, and whenever the work is shown in exhibition, they are temporarily and symbolically reunited with their places of origin. The project aims to encourage discussion about the strong links between a person and the place where they were born and where their forefathers lived for generations. I have combined two genres in this project: portraiture and landscape. In fact, the two are inextricably linked – the portrait is not complete without the landscape and the landscape in not complete without the portrait.”Alan Gignoux.