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And My Shrine Is My Mother’s Salon: On Ahlam Shibli’s ‘Death’

Ahlam Shibli, Untitled (Death, no.4), 2011—12, Palestine, chromogenic colour print, 38 × 57cm. Courtesy the artist
Through a close reading of Ahlam Shibli’s Death, Yazid Anani looks into the public and private representation of martyrs in Nablus. In a press conference on 29 September 2003, the governor of Nablus, Mahmud Al-Alul, declared that 425 Palestinians had been martyred in Nablus in the course of the past three years (of what ultimately became the Second Intifada, 2000—05); 5,260 more were wounded, over 7,000 detained and 1,350 remained behind Israeli prison during that period. Al-Alul accused the Israeli occupation army of deliberately destroying the city’s infrastructure and public buildings, and expressed his concerns about the Israelis’ systematic destruction of Nablus’s historical heritage and landmarks, especially in the old neighbourhoods of the historic city. At the end of his speech the governor praised the inhabitants for their social cohesion, cooperation and exceptional steadfastness in the face of continuous assaults on the city.