Afaf and Mahmoud Jabarin’s House

The Jabarin family house rests in the shade of the stone mountainside. It sits in the longstanding Al-Midan neighborhood, formerly the city center and home of the central marketplace, and today the most congested neighborhood in Umm el-Fahem. In the lovely courtyard stands the family home, which the paterfamilias, Mahmoud, a construction worker, and his wife, Afaf, a homemaker, built with their own hands. The courtyard bustles with birds and abounds with vegetables and flowers that Amir, the Jabarins’ only son, tends. Amir studies mechanical engineering at the Technion; he’s also a guide for the Ramat Gan Safari and the Green Tapestry Wadi ‘Ara Tourism Association. Next to the family residence is the home of Amir’s grandfather, Mahmoud’s father—an authentic Palestinian house that’s one of the last still standing in Umm el-Fahem. Its façade is built in the form of a dovecote; doves do make their homes there.

The Jabarins have a complex family history. The house, packed with artifacts, invites visitors to contemplate buildings and structures that preserve memory and to deal with the traces of memory that persist in the material and in the many collections of father and son.

One of the Jabarins’ most salient characteristics is that they’re collectors. The dozens of artifacts in their home capture the cultural, geological, and zoological contents that are invested in this place, planted in the Middle East domain.

The photographer of the Jabarin collections is the photographer and marine archeologist Noa Sheizaf. Her pictures focus on details from the collections and gestures and actions among family members, all of which documented by her camera in her recurrent visits to their home. In contrast to archeological research, which bases itself on material findings only, photography also affords a glimpse at human gestures. By documenting the artifacts and gestures identically, Sheizaf transforms her photos into an array of findings that add up to an unofficial corpus of the Jabarin family.

The Sea of Umm el-Fahem was created around an item in Amir Jabarin’s collection: a shell fossil that Amir found on the family’s farmland up the hill, a relic of a sea that covered the entire area in the distant past. Sheizaf unpacks the image of a ship being raised from the sea, harvested from her world as an archeologist, and makes it into a vessel that carries memories from which objects and gestures of life scatter.

Lilach Zifroni 

2020