Manal Morcos’ installation, ‘68’, commemorates the Nakba of 15 May 1948. It contains two sets of 68 glass medical vials; half representing blood and the others representing water from the Jordan river. The clinical language of the presentation of these vials evokes the trauma of this (and other subsequent) historic events that involved the expulsion of Palestinians, and the destruction of hundreds of Palestinian towns and villages. But, both the blood and water are fake and thus evoke local histories of ‘corruption’ concerning these two commodities. The sale of false Jordan water, some of it ‘Made in China’, to tourists and pilgrims, is the subject of many local jokes. Blood also has other sinister contemporary associations. Israeli media recently exposed a scandal concerning the systematic (racist) destruction of blood donated by Sephardic Jews.
Morcos’ work engages with Baudrillard’s notion of postmodern simulation and simulacra, whereby society has moved beyond questions of imitation, duplication, and parody. Rather, signs of the real are substituted for the real. According to Baudrillard, we have become estranged from real things and their use-value, as markets and personal relations are dominated by all pervasive multi-national capitalism. The violent occupational wars associated with Zionist expansion, and the commodification, disembodiment and faking of natural resources and life by private and state interests are powerfully evoked by Morcos’ installation.