El Dabke [Dalia ElCharbini]
El Dabke, 2023
Oil, Silver leaf and 24K gold leaf on linen
30" x 40"
‘El Dabke’ features a group of five men performing Dabke or Dabka, a popular traditional folk dance, originating in the Levantine countries including Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan.
I often use visual motifs of figures whose identities are concealed beneath the white and gold Keffiyehs as a symbol for the displaced Palestinian refugees. While the colors, white and gold, serve as a metaphor for the biblical reference of Palestine as the land “flowing with milk and honey”.
The keys seen on the dancers' waists represent the Palestinians Key of Return, a widely recognized symbol of the Nakba as many Palestinians kept the keys to their homes when they were forced into exile in 1948. This piece depicts a surreal visualization of these resilient dancers dancing their way to their ancestral homeland, Palestine. The Dabke dance leader, swinging the chain of keys of return represents the beacon of hope and resilience of this ongoing quest for justice and self-determination.
A big aspect of my creative journey is intertwined with my Palestinian heritage, which is an integral part of my identity. These Palestinian-themed works emerge from a subconscious offspring of my survivor's guilt, and art has become my means of navigating these complex emotions. In many ways, these pieces serve as my heartfelt love letter to my homeland while living in the diaspora. An attempt to self-console and release the sense of longing for the comforting notion of a home.