Sebastia by Dima Srouji
October film programme
Watch Sebastia (2020), a short film by artist Dima Srouji in October, part of our monthly film programme screening in The Living Room (Al-Madafeh) during the exhibition Stateless Heritage by DAAR – Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti.
This artist’s film explores the history and present day situation of Sebastia, a small archaeological town on a hill northwest of Nablus, Palestine. The town is surrounded by Shavei Shomron- an illegal Israeli settlement – and confiscated agricultural fields of olive groves and apricot trees. The ancient site of Sebastia was excavated multiple times over the last century by colonial archaeologists funded by Zionist individuals and institutions. The first excavation in 1908, led by Harvard University, exploited Sebastia locals as cheap labor to dig their own land for the sake of biblical archaeology. Each excavation extracted soil and artefacts from the ground, the archeologists took what they considered valuable back to their institutions leaving pottery shards and rubble on the surface. Today, what’s left of the archaeological monuments is contested by the nearby settlement as well as the Israeli military. The Roman Forum is a battlefield, but the locals are incredibly resilient.
Dima Srouji is a Palestinian architect exploring the power of the ground, its strata, and its artefacts to reveal silenced narratives and embedded intergenerational memories. She works with glass, text, archives, maps, plaster casts, and film, understanding each as an evocative object and emotional companion. More about Dima Srouji
Images: Stills from Sebastia. Courtesy of the artist.