Rana Beiruti


Re-rooting is a group exhibition of projects that highlight interventions, dialogues, and reflections, conducted at a local scale, that subvert and transform systems and pre-conditioned understandings of the three most pressing concerns in Jordan today; water politics, agro-ecology, and extractive building practices.

The constellation of works presented attempts to untangle the complex histories that make up the current crisis of economy and ecology, not only in an effort to denunciate them but also to showcase hacks, diversions, and solutions. They look at forms of self-determination and autonomy performed by local communities as a rejection of normalized exploitative and colonial models.

Each in their own way, the works presented unveil discourses on time, memory, disappearance, and, more violently, theft and erasure. They play on predicted and imagined futures to reflect on the loss of resources, land, seeds, knowledge, power, and agency. Within this “earth memory”, we are learning about the power of indigenous practices and knowledge, as well as storytelling and mythology, in providing cues to alternatives for reversing the current state of “unlivability” characterized by exhausted geographies, imposed scarcities, unjust economic systems, and an irreversible degradation of natural landscapes.

You might be searching among the branches, for what only appears in the roots – Jalāl Ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī

Re-rooting is about charting and redirecting those intricate and complex systems which operate invisibly and underground, carrying within them the histories and memories which continue to feed and nourish our existing realities. The process of re-rooting is not a nostalgic “return to our roots,” but a process of building new channels of connection with the earth.

Within the process of re-rooting is a process of re-routing. The works presented abandon notions of “earth-keeping” and sustainability to adopt processes that are regenerative, reversible, and biophilic when it comes to building our habitats and rewilding our cities. Under these new proposed ideas, ethical foraging and gathering become forms of resistance, and cooking and eating become performative acts, with each recipe becoming a pillar of cultural memory and exchange.

The exhibition acts as an aggregator of the collective local voices, showcasing real-world interventions as well speculative and reflective works done by artists, anthropologists, chefs, designers, farmers, foragers, scientists, bakers, nutritionists, photographers, and filmmakers who place artistic practice at the heart of what they do.

Zikra for Popular Learning –– Installations at the Re–rooting exhibition in the Main Building at Darat al Funun.

Photograph: Wheat harvest with Zikra for Popular Learning, Amman, 2020.

The invitation to curate an exhibition at Darat al Funun came at a time when the world was reeling from the effects of a global pandemic that exposed the fragility of global systems and the speed at which they can fall apart, endangering access to our most basic needs: food, water, and shelter.

A baydar, or pile of wheat, calligraphy by Al Arrab, and video excerpt from the film ‘Harvest Moon’, directed by Rama Ayasrah, and produced by Mariam Salim and Asmahan Bkerat, with concept and research by Lama Khatieb and Rabee’ Zureikat.

Reproduction of a bag carrying wheat, distributed as ‘aid’ by the United States, and placed opposite to a pile, or baydar, of locally-grown, native wheat that was harvested locally by Zikra for Popular Learning in 2021.

Whole wheat bread, commercial white bread, bread made from 100% local bread, bread dye, vitamin pre-mix.

Zikra for Popular Learning –– and their community of volunteers harvesting a plot of land near City Mall in Amman, 2020.

Guided by my interest in craft, material, and the land, I immersed myself during the pandemic in studying local geographies. It was clear to me that a network of factors—geopolitical, social, colonial, industrial, and commercial—bolster the misconception that our land is empty and that we must live in scarcity. After participating in the wheat harvest organized by Zikra for Popular Learning, and embarking on a collaborative research journey to study the culinary potential of foraging edible native plants, I found myself inspired not only by thinkers and doers who were taking on such complicated and interrelated issues in ingenious ways, but also by a renewed understanding of abundance and potential.

Mirna Bamieh –– Gestures of Enchantment, 2020.

Acts such as mobilizing a community to plant wheat, experimenting with native ingredients in the kitchen, imagining multispecies ecosystems, transforming the fertility of the land, and digging through archives to contemplate alternative structures and systems; these are all material interventions that take place in real space and time outside the confines of the gallery’s representational space. They unfold in the field, in the forest, or in the kitchen and have a real impact on the communities and lands they serve. They are solid, sober, contextualized, symbolic, critical, and representative acts, but can also be seen as studied, nuanced, and poetic. In that sense, they are acts that are embedded in contemporary artistic practice, and that draw from the methods of representation and expression characteristic of the art world.

Hussein Alazaat –– Jordanian Food Stickers, 2022.

Ayla Hibri –– The Alchemy of Juniper, Akkar, Lebanon, 2021.

Deema Dabis –– Ba’ali, 2022.

Karmah Tabbaa –– Wild Mouneh, 2022.

Taghmees –– Learning Soils, 2022

Eman Haram –– Mother of Oranges, Jaffa, 2022.

Eman Haram –– Narrating a City, 2019.

Eman Haram –– The Orange Grove, 2019-2020.

Sarah Risheq –– if the archive could speak, 2022.

Melika Abdel Razzak and Soraya Ghezelbash –– And help our eyes to dance, 2022.

Rawan Baybars –– Empty Lands, 2022.

Re–rooting, therefore, was not initially conceived of as a series of artworks by artists but as a compilation of acts done by individuals and civil society, transposed into the exhibition space. Seeking not to make void statements that simply critique or reflect our present reality, this exhibition is an exploration of the meaning of intervention-as-art and showcases these real-world interventions and design solutions conducted at a local scale that confront this global catastrophe with bold actions of self-determination. Similarly, this publication collates the voices of collaborators and participants who not only share the historical context of their research but also give insight into their personal journeys and interventions as a result of the new understandings they have developed.

Khaled Al-Bashir –– Un-forming Zionism, 2021.

Mais al Azab –– Cross Section II,Cross Section III, 2017-2022.

Khaled Al-Bashir –– Un-forming Zionism, 2021.

Sima Zureikat –– A Court for Reed and Rush, 2018.

TAYYŪN Research Studio –– Urban Pasture, 2022.

TAYYŪN Research Studio –– Insect Hotel, 2022.

Nujud Ashour –– Closer to Earth, 2022.

Abeer Seikaly –– THABIT: Building For Future Generations, 2022.

Abeer Seikaly –– Matters of Time, 2019.

Hareth Ramzi –– The Day the Water Came, 2019.

Nadia Bseiso –– Chapter I, Salvation Pipeline: Red Sea - Dead Sea, Jordan, 2015 - 2017.

Nadia Bseiso –– Chapter I, Salvation Pipeline: Red Sea - Dead Sea, Jordan, 2015 - 2017.

Nadia Bseiso –– The Baptism Site of Jesus Christ (Al-Maghtas), Jordan River, Jordan, 2015.

Paola Farran –– low tide: an anthology, 2022.