This exhibition presents Jumana Manna’s feature-length film, A Magical Substance Flows Into Me
(2015), which weaves through musical traditions of a multitude of communities living in and around Jerusalem. It takes as its starting point German-Jewish ethnomusicologist Robert Lachmann’s field recordings of “Oriental” groups in Palestine in the 1930s and his Oriental Music
radio series made for the Palestinian Broadcasting Service, established under the British Mandate (1920-1948). Responding to Lachmann’s project, Manna revisits the communities that he studied—including Kurdish, Moroccan, and yemenite Jews, Samaritans, members of urban and rural Palestinian communities, Bedouins and Coptic Christians—replaying his recordings and making new recordings of her own. These exchanges take place in their homes, offices, recording studios, and places of worship, and are interspersed with scenes from her own family home in East Jerusalem. Weaving from one site to another, the intertwinement of heritage and identities is presented, along with the imagining of a multifaceted Palestine.
This film is presented with a series of plaster, vessel, and body-like sculptures. Manna has stated, “Listening collapses the division of self and other, or of singular and plural, or inside and outside. […] sculptures are vessels, similar to our bodies, that may be filled with fluids, air, or sound; sound is taking place in space but is also spreading within us.”