Shuruq Harb

A Book of Signatures

Palestinian artist Shuruq Harb shows A Book of Signatures (2009), a work which contains the signatures of 250 individuals named Mohammed who live in Palestine.

Combining a handmade book, bound in leather, embossed in English and Arabic, and a digital projection of the collected signatures, it incorporates both traditional and modern ways of archiving information.

According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, around 250,000 people (13.5% of the Palestinian population) living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are named Mohammed, making it the most common name there.

The artist’s process of signature collection is indicative of an already existent social network, as each ‘Mohammed’ introduces other ‘Mohammeds’.

‘I choose to collect the signatures in a way that is primarily dictated by chance and human relations rather than one that purposefully emphasises the similarity. Unlike ‘John’ or ‘Jose’, the name ‘Mohammed’ is already stigmatised, and so my approach was one to emphasise both the humanity and individuality of those who carry that name.’ Shuruq Harb

This mini exhibition guide was published on the occasion of the exhibition at Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, 31 March – 16 May 2010.

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