RAMALLAH—The Palestinian artist Jumana Manna is obsessed with her people’s long memory.
During a recent presentation at the A.M. Qattan Foundation in Ramallah, the 33-year-old displayed a still from her 2012 short film A Sketch of Manners (Alfred Roch’s Last Masquerade). In the image, 50 of her relatives covered their faces in white makeup. Their scene was a melancholic allegory for the uncertainty that those of Palestinian heritage can’t escape under Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The scene was inspired by an archival photograph of a 1942 masquerade in Jerusalem hosted by the businessman and Palestinian National League member Alfred Roch. Manna was inspired by this photograph to recreate and reimagine the modernity and urbanism of Palestine before the creation of Israel in 1948, which led to the expulsion of more than 700,000 Palestinians from their homeland—an event they refer to as the “nakba,” or “catastrophe.”
“The film recollected the 1948 Palestinian exodus as an archival and past event, and its continuing effects on the recent Palestinian life,” said Manna.
Now based in Berlin, Manna was born in Majd Al-Krum, an Arab town in Israel’s Upper Galilee region, and grew up in Jerusalem. She studied at the National Academy of the Arts in Norway and the California Institute of the Arts in the Los Angeles area, and has exhibited at galleries and film festivals in Britain, Canada, Lebanon, the United States and elsewhere.