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Book Analysis

by Jae Won Jung


Introducing the Artist
& Relatable work

Basel Abbas is a Palestinian artist and writer based in Nicosia, Cyprus. Together with Ruanne Abou-Rahme, another Palestinian artist who is based in New York City, they co-authored the book "And yet my mask is powerful". Abbas and Abou-Rahme's work focuses on exploring the themes of memory, history, and politics, and is deeply rooted in the context of the Palestinian experience by.

creating a multimedia installation including sound, video, and diverse objects.

Along with this project, they are best known for their collaborative work "The Incidental Insurgents", a work of fiction that explores the concept of insurgency and resistance within the Palestinian struggle for liberation.

When was it published?

"And Yet My Mask Is Powerful" is a book by Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme, published in 2016. It is a translation of a broader project that includes a mixed-media installation and a five-channel video and sound work. The artists also organized trips for young Palestinians to the locations of villages that were emptied during the Nakba (catastrophe in Arabic) of 1948. The book presents a collage of digital images against a deep blue background, creating a visual representation of the project that explores themes of ephemerality and collective memory.


"And Yet My Mask is Powerful" originated from a multimedia exhibition created by Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme, which was displayed at Carroll / Fletcher in London in 2016. This project builds on their previous work, "The Incidental Insurgents" (2012-2015), and explores the idea of a never-ending crisis that pervades the modern world. The title of the project is drawn from Adrienne Rich's poem "Diving Into the Wreck," and, similar to the poem, the exhibition portrays a scene of ruin and destruction.

Type & Voice

There are two typefaces that appear in the book.

The monospaced typeface used in the neutral tone creates a stark contrast to the geometric sans serif typeface with capitalized letters.

Most part of the voiced utilizes monospaced typeface, and this can give a sense of stability and order to the text, but it can also create a sense of monotony or rigidity. Additionally, because monospaced typefaces are often associated with typewriters and computer programming, they can evoke a sense of technology or digital media.

Abbas and Abou-Rahme use the actual text of Adrienne Rich's poem "Diving Into the Wreck" in English and Arabic to explore the possibilities of recovery from a disastrous site, without the use of metaphors. By doing so, they also question the legacy of colonialism and occupation. Additionally, the artists provide scanned writings to give readers a glimpse into their research process and encourage connections to be made. Overall, Rich's words are repurposed to prompt critical reflection on the impact of colonialism and to shed light on the artists' creative process.

Refers to the poem at the beginning of the book

Context of Images

One prominent form of imagery in the book is the use of symbols and metaphors. For example, the authors use the metaphor of masks throughout the book to represent the different layers of identity that individuals and communities may wear in different contexts. These masks can serve as protective shields, disguises, or facades, and the authors explore how they can be both empowering and constraining. The mask becomes a powerful symbol that reflects the complex negotiation of identity in the face of external pressures and internal conflicts.


Another recurring image in the book is that of memory and history. The authors use colorful and sensory language to evoke the landscapes, sounds, and smells of the past, drawing on the power of memory to shape personal and collective identities. They also employ imagery related to displacement, such as the imagery of exile, journeys, and borders, to convey the experiences of Palestinians who have been uprooted from their homeland and are navigating the complexities of living in the diaspora.


The authors also draw on cultural and historical references to create imagery that reflects the Palestinian experience. They use imagery from Palestinian folklore and traditional arts to convey the richness and resilience of Palestinian culture, as well as the challenges and oppression faced by Palestinians in their fight for liberation. These cultural references add depth and richness to the imagery in the book, providing a window into the Palestinian identity and its complexities.


Most of the images are not neatly organized and appear to be randomly scattered. Some pages have three or four images overlapping each other, and the book has a complex structure resembling multiple internet windows piled up. In fact, the most crucial aspect of this book is the relationship between the images. The photos and texts are intertwined in such a way that it is difficult to discern the order, creating their own confusion. While the past unfolds sequentially, this book's purpose is not to follow that path. Instead, this book continuously pulls the past back, unraveling the fabric of order and freeing what is trapped beneath.

Aesthetic Analysis

The book "And Yet My Mask is Powerful" utilizes a combination of computer screenshots presented in software windows, along with scans and typographical alterations that are distributed throughout its pages. This artistic approach aims to convey a sense of disintegration and rejuvenation but with an emphasis on the future. By reinterpreting the apocalyptic imagery of the Palestinian world and projecting it into an alternative, unrealized temporal context, the book imagines a parallel universe that has yet to be realized.

Thoughts on Cover Design

The cover design of the book "And Yet My Mask is Powerful" may not be as compelling as the content contained within. While the book itself is powerful and remarkable, the cover does not effectively capture the same level of attention and interest. In my view, a more effective approach would be to consider a cover design that prominently features a single, striking image of a mask, emphasizing the imagery and central theme of the book. Alternatively, it may be worthwhile to explore a cover design that incorporates digital or computer-generated elements, reflecting the conceptual framework of the book, which includes computer screenshots and software windows. Overall, a more impactful cover design could potentially enhance the book's visibility and appeal to readers. There were certainly powerful images from the book that fits as an appropriate cover.

The book features a sewn-bound binding and was produced through the offset printing process. The cover is made of paperback material. I would like to note that the binding style gives the book an older appearance than its actual age. Additionally, while the book's aesthetics may not be particularly striking, its focus is primarily on its content.

Although this book may not have an appealing visual aspect, it is apparent that the authors have invested time in conveying a profound message that they wish to share, and in doing so, enhance its effectiveness.

How it influenced me 


While reading this book, the very essence of this project deeply resonated with me. Chaos is a problem of timing, of "when it happens." It is the only certainty in this world and the master that rules over us all. Then what is the meaning of remembering all of this? If everything is destined to be destroyed and disappear, why do we even exist? I sometimes stay up all night contemplating these thoughts endlessly.


Nevertheless, we must continue to live. Despite all the despair and failures we experience, I too must keep on living. Each person may have their own reasons for why, but as long as we are alive, we side with the living. The light grows even in the shadows and new life emerges amidst the broken and decayed. Just as we name and give meaning to things of the past, we can also breathe vitality and life back into the broken.


If the entirety of human existence were to be recorded in history from the beginning of time until the present day, our souls and origins would be preserved in the fleeting moments of everyday life. Passed down from person to person through oral tradition, our stories will continue to exist and be absorbed by future generations. And in this way, we will persist through time, becoming immortal in the collective memory of those who come after us.


Perhaps this book contains the most similar context to the book I am writing as a result of taking this class. As I am also engaged in the task of reinterpreting the space that constitutes me and creating it into a digital realm, I was able to enjoy reading this book. I believe that this book has become another guide that will lead me through writing my own.


“And Yet My Mask Is Powerful Part 1.” Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme باسل عبّاس و روان أبو رحمة,


Griffith, Phillip. “Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme's and Yet My Mask Is Powerful.” The Brooklyn Rail, 19 Jan. 2018,


Powell, Amy  L. “Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme: And Yet My Mask Is Powerful.” Amy L. Powell,

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