‘The Punishment of Luxury,’ an exhibition by UCA Vice Chancellor Professor Bashir Makhoul, opened in Umm el-Fahem, Israel’s largest Arab majority city, at the weekend. Exploring excess and violence, the exhibition features a striking new installation comprising 10,000 model houses, all filled with the herb za’atar.
“The installation is fully immersive and visitors are immediately struck by the aroma of za’atar,” says Professor Makhoul. “The herb has a strong cultural relevance, and its presence is often a signifier for Palestinian households. But it also alludes to the massacre of Tel al Za’atar, which saw the destruction of a Palestinian refugee camp and the death of 2,000 of its inhabitants.
“In the exhibition’s centrepiece, za’atar will spill from the doors and windows of the model houses, demonstrating how our identities are unable to be confined. It is designed to provoke reflection on how our political, cultural and religious identities leak from the constraints we try to place on them.”
‘The Punishment of Luxury,’ will run until 23 March next year.