The prisoner’s book section of the Nablus Municipality Library hosts approximately 8000 books read by Palestinian political prisoners between 1972 and 1995 and 870 hand-written notebooks. These were part of the political detainees libraries of two Israeli prisons in the West Bank, one in Nablus and one in Janet. Both jails were close down in the aftermaths of the Oslo Agreement and books and notebooks were collected by the Palestinian Authorities and donated to the Municipality Library in 1995.
My first visit to the library dates back to august 2009, my initial photographic approach lead me to explore the layers of narratives that unfolds from the covers, the scribbles, the notes at the margins of pages and the dust. Then I met Khalil Ashour, ex-political prisoner (1970-82) and great book lover and Abdullah Abu Ghudeeb ex-political prisoner (1970-82) and librarian in the Nablus prison and started with them a long period of con-versations on their relation with books within prison.
After almost two years of research and process based practice, the project a needle in the binding, as unfolded in 2 acts.
The first act took shape in the frame of the Jerusalem Show by the Al-Ma´mal Foundation in the Old city of Jerusalem (October/November 2011) where I moved 239 books (selected in collaboration with Mr. Khalil Ashour) from the Nablus Municipality Library to the Khalidi Library in the Old City of Jerusalem and made them available to the public in a sort of reading room. Where Palestinians are prohibited to move from the West Bank to Jerusalem, we moved the books across the boundaries of the separation wall. The installation consisted of the books and three video screenings narrating the personal relations that Khalil Ashour and Abdallah Abu Ghudee had with those books. A series of open talks curated and moderated by Professor Esmail Nashif, took place in the exhibition, in order to unfold the central role of books and self-organized education among Palestinian prisoners.
The second Act of the project was implemented in the frame of Cities Exhibition curated by Vera Tamaro and Yazid Anani and organized by the Birzeit Museum; it consisted in returning the books to the Library in Nablus and installing the videos with an open conversation with Khalil Ashour.