There Is A Light That Never Fades | هناك ضوء لا ينطفيء | "A National Monument"

There are few countries in the world in which surveying and mapping played so much of an important role in its history. Plaestine, the Holy Land, was long converted by foreigners, primarily the Crusades and European colonists. They wanted to know its physical and historical characteristics as a prelude to conquering the land.
— Salman Abu Sitta

A National Monument is a limited edition series of 21 wooden topographic reliefs created by Visualizing Palestine together with artist Marwan Rechmaoui. Inspired by a series of highly detailed maps of Palestine from the British Mandate period, the works recreate a 3-dimensional snapshot of the major Palestinian cities and towns circa 1947, based on the final British surveys before the Nakba combined with digital elevation data from NASA.

What Inspired “A National Monument”?

A good topographical survey should be looked upon as a national monument of the first importance
— J. F. Salmon, Director of Palestine Survey, 1933-38

This work is inspired by a series of highly-detailed 1:20,000 scale topocadastral maps produced between 1929 and 1947 under the auspices of the British Mandate of Palestine. The maps, over 280 in number, cover the majority of historic Palestine from Beersheba northwards, and are dense with natural and man-made features, including hundreds of towns and villages, topographic contours and thousands of landscape features, mountains, rivers, valleys, plains, orchards —with each of their Arabic names transliterated.

The title of the work, “A National Monument”, is a tongue-in-cheek reference to the words of J. F. Salmon, director of the Survey of Palestine (1933-38), who once wrote: "A good topographical survey should be looked upon as a national monument of the first importance." Words that take on new meanings in light of the dramatic transformation of the territory over the past seven decades.

A National Monument was first exhibited at Dar El Nimer for Arts & Culture in Beirut, Lebanon, January 2019. The exhibition has been featured in The National, Al-Monitor and Press TV.

All funds received through the sales of the artworks go directly to Visualizing Palestine, the primary project of Visualizing Impact. VI is registered as a non-profit corporation in Canada and in Lebanon, and as a 501c3 via fiscal sponsorship in the USA.


Edited By: Abdulah Al-Ghoul

Abdulah Al-Ghoul is a strategist and digital project manager with a background in several industries like hospitality, fine arts and marketing. He founded the Marsoum Art Collective in 2018.