Raeda Sa'adeh

Born in 1977 in Um El-Fahem (PS)
Lives and works in Jerusalem (IL)


Two-channel video installation, colour, sound
durée : 17'00''
Year of Purchase: 2009

“She was always thinking into tomorrow.”1

“Wars happen over a game of checkers.”2

first sight
One must not be taken aback by the apparent simplicity of Raeda Sa’adeh’s Vacuum, an installation consisting of a right-angle dual-channel video projection representing a woman pushing and pulling her vacuum cleaner on top of a deserted mountain (after the end of the world?)
The beauty of the images contrasts with the surrealist flippancy of the spectacle, and the irony of the represented scene—with an absurd theatricality of displacement: the condition of a woman exiled into a housekeeping cliché, “preaching” her own existence “in the desert,” in her own corner of the world.

The character attending to this task is played by Raedah Sa’adeh. She is a young performance and video artist and photographer, born in Palestine in 1977, and residing in Jerusalem. She mimics the stereotype of the status of women, at times lost in the landscape, as if overshadowed by the presence of the world. This role allows the artist to create a procedure of subjectivization that destabilizes the boundaries of representation.
The relation between the dominating and the dominated must be rethought as a more open, dynamic relation. The second reading reveals a whole new story.

body art
By using her own body as her only resource, Raeda Sa’adeh explores the intersecting questions of identity, namely that of the Palestinian woman, and of the meaning of occupation by the local patriarchy, by tradition, by the colonizer, or by Western imagery. Her “My body is my art” is an heir to the artistic avant-gardes of popular, minority, and anti-establishment cultures of the 1970s. The feminist will in art is forged in the flesh, which is the site of experience and contradiction, located inside and outside systems of domination. The young artist positions herself between several worlds, and her self-expression originates in a place that is always a border zone. The body is a territory divided between the artist, the work, the woman, the Palestinian woman, the “Third World,” the new generation, each of which represents a co-existent identity.

an “occupied” woman
The situation is turned around. The woman in Vacuum is no longer homeless, “stranger among strangers, living a life estranged from all hope”.3 On the contrary, the bare mountains of Jericho have been integrated into the domestic sphere and have become “home, sweet home” of a Palestinian woman. The landscape is shaped by her action. An ordinary gesture that appeared void of meaning has become a “heroic act of everyday life” – thorough imagination.

Raeda Sa’adeh plays on a Zionist propaganda slogan, “a land without a people for a people without a land,” associated with a new founding of Israel that reinvented Palestine as an uninhabited, vacant territory. The title is a pun playing on that vacuum. The installation is thus a subversion of that slogan by the Palestinians: “Palestine is not a land without a people for a people without a land.”

Luc Jeand’heur

1 : Don DeLillo, The Body Artist. (Simon & Schuster: New York, 2001). p. 34.

2 : Oz, TV series, season 1, episode 1.

3 : André Suarès, Trois hommes (Three men).