Sink into the electronic vibes of Palestinian Performing Artist and Producer, Makimakkuk
Written and photographed by Sama Haddad
The experimental hybrid sound of Makimakkuk is characterized by the fusion of her history and presence. She tells our story as Palestinians, as women and as a generation torn between conservatism and modernity. Her music dances from east to west, sweeping away conventional definitions of genre and labels. Under the rigid electronic beats lay mellow undertones making their way up as soft waves tickling your thoughts. Similar to Makimakkuk’s inner contradiction of war and peace, her music is a coalition of love and fear.
Makimakkuk was born in Tunis, raised in Ramallah, and is entrenched in roots tracing around Bilad Al-Sham. Formally, she still obtains the status of a refugee in her homeland, despite living in Palestine for more than 25 years. Her mother is originally from a displaced village near Tiberias and her father from another near Ramleh. Meaning, the family is internally displaced, similar to millions of other Palestinians. “A while back, my dad and I visited Aqir, the village my father is originally from. There was nothing left of it. Everything is new, even the nature. They erased everything and replaced it with artificials foreign to the land. It felt as if I was there, but I wasn't. I told my dad that it might have been better that I didn't see Aqir as it was, so that it feels like I hadn’t arrived yet. I still see it the way I imagine it, and not under the bitter consequences of the occupation”. No doubt, Makimakkuk’s history of displacement casted a shadow of alienation on her life. “I always feel that something is missing. I don’t have my extended family around me, as my parents have always lived far away from their families. Nevertheless, I created a place here for myself through interactions and friendships. I feel like Ramallah is my home, but at the same time, I still have a feeling that I’m missing a piece of the puzzle”.
That got me thinking, what is home really? I came to the conclusion that home is a number of ideals and conceptions, turned into the material realization of the important things in life. Being at home is a sense triggered by notions such as familiarity, security and origin. Our displacement tilts the equation by definition. Living under occupation eradicates the stability a home has to offer. Following the 1948 Nakba, origin is but a detail of our antecedent. In other words, lacking stability and belonging turns our physical homes into empty shells. Rather, our home is defined by spirit. We carry the burden bestowed upon us by our colonizers, those seeking to strip us from our identity and strike out our history. Our history is a sensation evoked by the aspiration of our liberation - what Ramallah, or Haifa, would be like if it were free. Our homes are truly in our imaginations, like Aqir in Makimakkuk’s.
I always wanted to make music, but would ask myself why? What for? Who would listen? ...I was affected by the common idea of my environment and was convinced that music and art were a privilege for those who were not facing ethnic cleansing, violence and apartheid.
In many instances, our past, present and future are carried through objects. Our homes are where our prized possessions lay. As Makimakkuk tells me, “I never studied music, but my siblings did for a short time. We have a notebook from their music lessons in Tunis. I still like to look at it. We have a record player and a big collection of music that moves all around the musical spectrum from different eras and geographical areas. Each one of us contributes their interests to our shared family collection.” It seems to be that Makimakkuk started DJing on her home record player, recording herself over tracks and creating mixtapes to spread her knowledge. That was the leeway to her own productions as well, she tells me. “I always wanted to make music, but would ask myself why? What for? Who would even listen? Who cares? I was affected by the common idea of my environment and was convinced that music and art were a privilege for those who were not facing ethnic cleansing, violence and apartheid. In the end, I studied journalism and sociology. Even though I haven't used those degrees per se, they affect my way of thinking and the way I create music”.
Every generation of Palestinians has battled the occupation in one way or another. Music has been a form of resistance ever since. Today, we are witnessing the uprising of content and media, whether written, visual or audible. Throughout the attempts to ethnically cleanse Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan this past month, Palestinians covered the incidents through social media to redeem the insufficient coverage of the Israeli press. We became our own news outlet and only reliable source. Makimakkuk released a verse contemplating the situation over Instagram. “Art for the sake of art does not mean anything. Art is an outlet where I express everything I can’t express otherwise. My experience and identity reflect, and self reflect, in my work. I understand my identity and myself through my work. I tell stories, share trauma and put out my alienation and uprooting for all to see bare and raw”. Makimakkuk uses her music as a means of documentation, creating the persistence of identity, ensuring that we don’t lose ourselves under the vacancy of what the future may hold.
Life is worth living. We are here for a reason. In the end, it’s a spiritual journey to reach the higher self
Healing trauma and conflict into memory and growth, Makimakkuk turns battle wounds into victory scars. She explained how “Love is the solution. I look for it everywhere, it's the right path. I don’t call our cause "war" , as we live in a context of settler-colonialism, occupation, erasing, genocide, and ethnic cleansing. Cleansing? More like dirtying. In the end, how can I find love in a political context that is based on fear? I go back to basics. This is my own conflict arising from depression, anxiety and alienation. I remind myself of the good things in my life and build on them to give me strength”. Reflecting on the ethnic cleansing of Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan, Makimakkuk explains how “From 1948 until now, the incidents in Sheikh Jarrah count as something “small” in the bigger context of the ongoing Nakba. But when I see our solidarity, even though I am not there physically, I know all of us are in it together, even though we each have our own path”. Music, such as love, can create real-time change in the ears and hearts of its observers. “Don't be a nihilist. Life is worth living. We are here for a reason. In the end, it’s a spiritual journey to reach the higher self”, Makimakkuk says.
Art is an outlet where I express everything I can’t express otherwise
As of today, Makimakkuk is working on several musical projects and performances. As self-growth and appreciation are the first steps to success, she tells me that “My dream is to be my higher self, no matter what I work in or do. I want to keep learning and discovering. My goal is to be the best version of myself and rise to my full potential”.
Our alienation accompanies us as we walk down the path of our spiritual journey. The unnatural involvement of the occupation may throw us off that path. But as we live the latest chapter of Palestine’s ethnic cleansing, we are capable of eliminating our alienation through our unity. Our personal conflicts and trauma turn into collective identity. Our spiritual journeys are dipped in the journeys of others. The path to our higher selves, as Makimakkuk demonstrates, is no longer a quest of the sole soul. Rather, it is a combined battle in the name of the ideal that we call a free Palestine. We learn from Makimakkuk how to utilize alternative instruments like music as a tool of documentation, storytelling and education. Through our unanimous yet various struggles, our hearts unite for our liberation. And if home is where the heart is, then our hearts spread from the river to the sea.
You can also follow Sama Haddad’s writing & photography on IG @samahaddad