Jumana Emil Abboud
The Unbearable Halfness of Being
7 October – 17 December 2023

Open Thurs-Sun, 11am-4pm
or by appointment outside of those times
Entry is free – all are welcome
The exhibition is wheelchair accessible

As the war in Gaza continues, please consider donating to one of the following organisations if you are able:
Medical Aid for Palestine
United Nations Relief and Works Agency
Alliance for Middle East Peace

Available to watch online: 3 short films made by Jumana Emil Abboud with photographer Issa Freij, shot around locations of haunted water sources across the West Bank, Jerusalem and northern Israel. 

Watch the exhibition film that accompanies The Unbearable Halfness of Being at CAMPLE LINE. Featuring an interview with Jumana Emil Abboud recorded in September 2023.

About the exhibition

A portrait, earthy painting which features pale brown and reddish tones, with a dark pastel-drawn sketch of a figure towards the bottom left corner. The figure seems to emerge from some black, stone-like forms, and their finger points towards the centre of the painting, creating delicate ripples in a large organic form painted in broad reddish-brown strokes. Emerging from right edge of this form is a delicate sketch of a tree trunk which angles up towards the top right of the painting.

Images: (above) Jumana Emil Abboud, Ripple I, (2022), 122 x 80cm, vegetable ink, earth wax, pastel on paper; (below) Four dwellers by the well, 2020, 76 x 57cm, gouache pigment, pastel, acrylic, graphite, aquarelle, pencil on paper. Courtesy of the artist. 

A portrait painting with a vibrant turquoise background over which are sketched several small, delicate figures in red, other organic shapes and textures, handwriting, and washes of mustard yellow and pale blue. The figures, in two pairs, seems to view each other from across a stretch of pale blue that evokes water. One carries a tall vessel on their head, with another heart-like vessel to the side, outlined in vivid red and with a trail of black smudges. Arcing over the whole scene and spanning the full width of the painting is a thick and smoke-like pale strip.

CAMPLE LINE is delighted to bring The Unbearable Halfness of Being, an exhibition of drawings, embroidered textiles, talismanic objects, wood carvings, video and neon light works by artist Jumana Emil Abboud, to Dumfriesshire this autumn. The exhibition opened on 7 October and runs till 17 December.

The Unbearable Halfness of Being was first presented in 2022 as part of the 15th edition of Documenta, an international exhibition of contemporary art that takes place every five years in Kassel, Germany. This is Jumana’s first solo exhibition in Scotland, and the first presentation of this body of work since Documenta 15.

Jumana Emil Abboud (b. 1971, Shefa’amer) is Palestinian and is currently based between Jerusalem and London where she is completing her PhD. Her practice is grounded in the Palestinian cultural landscape and she draws on the traditions of folklore, myth-making and storytelling that once animated community life, particularly around times of family or community gathering, such as seed-sowing, water collection or harvest. She works across drawing, installation, video and performance, often collaboratively, exploring personal and collective memory and practices of sharing and re-telling as ways to address experiences of loss and longing and the impacts of decades of dispossession and annexation.

For more than 10 years, Jumana has focused on oral histories relating to water sources, springs, wells and rivers: ‘For thousands of years, the natural landscape we lived in in Palestine was a terrain of enchantment. The natural water source – spring, well, stream – was such a terrain, inhabited by spirits, good and bad. I like to refer to such waters as spirited sites.’ 

The Unbearable Halfness of Being brings together a compelling body of work that Jumana began to develop in 2020 as part of a residency with Sakiya, a progressive academy working across art, agrarian and ecological practices, based in ‘Ein Qiniya in the West Bank. During her residency, her research focused on seven endangered natural water sources in the Abu al-Adham hillside, and she worked closely with the community to share words, stories, live drawing practices, and participatory actions as part of an extended ‘Water Diviners’ workshop.

Whilst in ‘Ein Qiniya, Jumana worked with inks and wax crayons made with locally sourced materials and made casts of natural objects found at the water sites with community members as part of their workshop. Working between Jerusalem, ‘Ein Qiniya and London over 2020-2022, Jumana used the materials and casts to produce drawings and small sculptures, fused with elements of a number of Palestinian folk tales, including Half-a-Halfling (which lends the ‘halfness’ of the exhibition’s title) and The Orphans’ Cow.

At CAMPLE LINE, Jumana will present 18 drawings in our upstairs and foyer spaces, alongside a selection of beeswax charm objects, carved Sacred water guardians from 2016, embroidered textiles based on drawings by Jumana and made collaboratively in 2021 with ‘Ein Qiniya resident Suha atta Alqam, a small crochet featuring a horse made by Jumana’s mother Clemence, and two neon light works, shaped to form the Arabic letter Ein, meaning eye or water source. Jumana’s films, I Feel Everything (2022, 9’), The Water Keepers (2022, 30’), and Hide Your Water from the Sun (2014-2017, 8’45”), made in collaboration with photographer Issa Freij, will screen over the period of the exhibition.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a new short essay written by Eline van der Vlist, formerly artistic director, Darat al Funun ­– The Khalid Shoman Foundation.

About the artist

A close up photograph featuring a beeswax cast of a cross section of a pomegranate, held in the fingertips of someone's hand. In soft focus on a pale-pink surface below are several bring pink casts with other organic beeswax forms in varying shapes and sizes.

Jumana Emil Abboud (born 1971, Shefa’amer) lives and works in Jerusalem and London and is currently pursuing a practice-led PhD at the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London, entitled I begin with eye: on spirited waters and folk tale reunions.

Over the last two decades, Abboud’s work has been presented in numerous solo and group exhibitions, including Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary Art (2023), Biennale of Sydney (2022), Documenta 15 (2022), Common Grounds: Story / Heritage, Casco Art Institute, Utrecht (2020); The Jerusalem Show (2018); Sharjah Biennale (2017); BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead (2016); Venice Biennial (2015, 2009); and Istanbul Biennale (2009), among many others. She has participated in art residencies, including Sakiya – Art/Science/Agriculture, ‘Ein Qiniya; Delfina Foundation, London; Arts Initiative Tokyo; and Gästeatelier Krone, Aarau.

Jumana would like to acknowledge with deep gratitude Ruangrupa & Lumbung curatorial & production team of documenta 15; mini majelis kawan, the ‘Ein Qiniya community of friends and waters, Issa Freij, Sahar Qawasmi, Nida Sinnokrot, Haifa Zalatimo, the Water Diviners Palestine, Kassel & Dubai groups for their heartfelt collaborations; in addition to Sharjah Art Foundation, Casco Art Institute: Working for the Commons, Radio Alhara, Marina Warner, Sharif Kanaana, Ahmad Nabil, Eline van der Vlist, Aline Khoury, Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary (TBA21), Qanat collective, Khadijeh Kanambo, The Khalid Shoman foundation – Darat al Funun, Temporary Gallery – Cologne, Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art, Warsaw, Bétonsalon – Center for Art and Research, Laureate of the Ville de Paris aux Récollets international residency program, Al-Mawred Al Thaqafy, Slade School of Fine Art mentors and colleagues, and the Cample Line team throughout the project’s extended processes. Lastly, no amount of words can express immense gratitude to my mother, sisters and family; thank you for your guardianship always.

Audio Descriptions

A Stream Between

Described by Eloise Munro

Trust in God

Described by Francesca Gildert

‘the water library’ is a poem written by Alycia Pirmohamed in response to Jumana Emil Abboud’s exhibition The Unbearable Halfness of Being, held at CAMPLE LINE from 7 October to 17 December 2023. Alycia read an initial draft of the water library at CAMPLE LINE as part of the event listed above.

You can download a free PDF copy of the water library below, or please email us if you would like to receive a paper copy (£1.50 P&P)

Please consider making a donation to Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP)