Three Films by Jumana Emil Abboud & Issa Freij

The cupped hands of two people hover over a shallow river, carefully passing river water between them.
Still from I Feel Everything (2022)

This film will screen with English subtitles in-house. Subtitles for d/Deaf and Hard of Hearing viewers available when watching online.

Three films made by Jumana Emil Abboud in collaboration with photographer Issa Freij, shot around ‘Ein Qiniya, a village in the West Bank in Palestine, and locations of haunted water sources (spirit-waters) across the West Bank, Jerusalem and northern Israel.

2021, 30:29, Arabic with English subtitles

The Water Keepers documents a live performance undertaken by Jumana and a group of community members in ‘Ein Qiniya, a village in the West Bank in Palestine, as part of a workshop in 2021. The workshop formed part of Jumana’s residency with Sakiya, a progressive academy working between art, ecology and agriculture. Over the course of the residency, Jumana’s research focused on seven endangered natural water sources on the Abu Al-Adham hillside and she worked closely with members of the ‘Ein Qiniya community, who she called ‘Water Diviners’, to share words, stories, live drawing practices and participatory actions. The live performance documented in The Water Keepers took place between Sakiya and theEin al-Balad spring as a culmination of the workshop. 

The Water Diviners Palestine group are: Raghad Saqfalhait, Lama Khatib, Haifa Zalatimo, Layla Taher, Amal Hajjaj, Zeina Nedal, Thurayya Shneina (Um Juma), Ali Shneina (Abu Juma), Suha Atta Alqam, Rahaf and Tabaraq Alqem, Sahar Qawasmi, Nida Sinnokrot, Issa Freij, Yusef Yacoub (Abu Omar), Ayoub Yacoub, Danna Masad, Tareq Abboushi, Yazan Salem, Salma Kharouba, Saad Dagher, Canaan Mazara (Abu Ibrahim), Ishraq Awashra, and Amany Kattom.

The seven water sources on the Abu Al-Adham hillside are:
‘Ein Abu al-Adham عين أبو الأدهم
Ein al-Uwayneh العوينة
Ein Boubin عين بوبين,
Ein al-Janayen (also known by Ein um al-Rumman عين أم الرمان, the mother of pomegranates or Roman الرومان),
Ein al-Shahoun عين الشحون,
Ein al-Asfoura عين العصفورة,
Ein al-Ballad عين البلد

Commissioned by the Sharjah Art Foundation, 2020

I Feel Everything draws upon Jumana’s residency in ‘Ein Qiniya and her collaboration with the Water Diviners there, as well as from the Palestinian folk tale Half-a-halfling [Nos Nsais] – one of Jumana’s favourites – which tells the tale about a ‘half-child’ that is born of magic. 

Shot in and around ‘Ein Qiniya, including at the water source ‘Ein-al-Uwayneh, the film reimagines the half-child here as narrator, story-teller and body of water: The place where we meet is inside this story. I carry you across the stream; I am the stream. The film’s narration flows between multiple voices, intertwining that of the child, mother, animal, water source, spirit, the living and non-living. It culminates in a chorus sequence adapted from Dr Tawfiq Canaan’s Haunted Springs and Water Demons in Palestine, published in 1922, and voiced by Jumana’s friends and family. It is their hands that we see in the final frames of the film, passing water one to the other, much as with stories, some parts falling away and others carried forwards.

I Feel Everything was conceived in gratitude to the support and collaboration of Sakiya, ‘Ein Qiniya community, Water Diviners group Palestine, Issa Freij, and the Sharjah Art Foundation.

Made in collaboration with photographer Issa Freij

Hide Your Water from the Sun takes its title from the belief that natural water sources hidden from the light of the sun have more curative potency than exposed waters. Together with Issa Freij, Jumana undertook to map out locations of haunted water sources (spirit-waters) across the West Bank, Jerusalem and northern Israel.

Guided by her childhood memories of the landscape and the stories she was told about its hauntings, as well as by Dr Tawfiq Canaan’s study, Jumana and Issa sought to find the sites that were once believed to be inhabited by supernatural beings — inhabiting (and guarding) natural springs, wells, streams, caves, trees, wells.

This video was part of several audio/visual/performance sketches between 2014-2017, presented in several locations. The narration in the film was originally conceived as a word-based performance.

Available to watch both in-house and online over the course of Jumana’s exhibition The Unbearable Halfness of Being at CAMPLE LINE, 7 October – 17 December 2023. 

These films are free to watch. If you are in a position to do so, please consider making a donation to Medical Aid for Palestinians Gaza Emergency Appeal.

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 occupation 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 Water Keepers

I Feel Everything

Hide Your Water from the Sun

Dir. Jumana Emil Abboud & Issa Freij

2014-2022, total runtime 48′
Arabic & English with English subtitles

FREE with an optional donation to the Gaza Emergency Appeal 

7 October - 17 December