Hala El Abora

Artist Statement

My most recent work is an attempt to document the impossibility of documentation. Questions around what constitutes an archive and how to work with materials that defy permanence, shape my research inquiry into the ever-growing sinkholes in the Dead Sea. Tied to this is a preoccupation with preservation and the inevitability of decay, both materially and immaterially. The difficulty of accessing information of these sinkholes and the impossibility of capturing knowledge on ecologies that are rapidly shifting, is reflected in the material composition of my work. 

Sinkholes serve as geological witness to catastrophe. The act of collecting information around these inaccessible sites becomes a deliberate and conscientious effort to amass a repository of truths, counter-narratives, and hidden realities. Land images, data analysis, and narratives become accessible only as virtual strings of online data. To be forced to rely on such information, and to work at such a disadvantaged distance, is to settle on an overarching narrative and code. In this undertaking, I attempt not only to reclaim information that may be falsified with ease but also to symbolically reclaim territory. It involves reaching beyond the sanctioned narratives to uncover obscured perspectives: unmasking operates as a revelatory force, peeling away layers of misinformation or deliberate obfuscation to expose the concealed agendas and distorted truths perpetuated by power structures. Archiving, in this context, becomes a subversive act against the intentional erasure of marginalized voices and alternative perspectives from the annals of history.

Based on numerical data unearthed from my extensive research into the depth of the Dead Sea sinkholes, a selected image is digitally manipulated and then etched onto metal plates at different intervals and for different durations. The cold flat metal pieces resting on the floor are the remnants of the process of corrosion. Each dip into the acid disintegrates the image and subsequently its code. To resort to etching as a process is to commit to creating an unalterable document, an engraved truth made permanent. Yet, etching is a process of material decay made possible by subjecting pure metal to harsh chemicals that eat away at its exposed surface. The desire to control the volatile process of decay comes with despair, a struggle to preserve enough of the image while still stripping away its code. The unpredictability of how the image will form once it meets the corrosive acid speaks to the decay and mutability of the subject matter. Accompanying the metallic residue of images are a series of lightboxes in a 6 x 6 format, whose size mirrors positives. The images in the lightboxes alternate between manipulated found archival images of the Dead Sea sinkholes and images that I have taken of voids that resemble them. Alongside the lightboxes are a series of artist books that record my thought process and development throughout the project. This project morphs into a personal battle between the material and myself, and thus the battle between truth and bias.


Hala El Abora (b. Amman, 1999) is a Palestinian Jordanian artist based in Dubai. Her practice is driven by her obsession with non-ephemerality, permanence, and the desperate need to preserve. She explores the act and process of archiving, the act of making forms concrete, and negotiating deterioration. In her work, intimate embroideries resonate against rigid and enduring mediums such as resin, plastic, and metal to embody experiences of yearning that cannot otherwise be made physical.

Hala’s work was showcased at several exhibitions, including Press Print!, Aisha Al Abbar Gallery, Dubai, UAE; Nostalgia, Ayyam Gallery, Dubai, UAE; Getting Over the Color Green, Engage101, Dubai, UAE (2023); Xposure International Photography Festival, Sharjah, UAE (2023); While The Coffee Grounds Settle, Gotham Gallery, Washington, DC, USA (2022); Calculating Chaos, Rewaq Gallery, University of Sharjah, Sharjah, UAE (2022); SGC International Conference, University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA (2022); Confluence II, Universiti Sains Malaysia, IE Art Projects, Malaysia (2022); Exit 16, The Studio Gallery, Sharjah, UAE (2021); Palestine 101, University of Toronto, Canada (2020); and Identity, Rewaq Gallery, University of Sharjah, Sharjah, UAE (2020). Hala has been awarded the Christo and Jeanne-Claude award (2023) alongside her team, and was a member of Jameel Arts Youth Assembly (2022 - 2023). She was part of Confluence, a virtual residency by Universiti Sains Malaysia (2022). She holds a BFA from the University of Sharjah (2021) and currently pursuing her MFA in Art and Media at NYUAD.