These photos search for the visual similarities that exist between subjects that are situated on opposing ends of the political, religious, economic, and ideological spectrums of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.
Since moving to Jerusalem in June 2014, I have been exposed to a continuously complex and nuanced place. I have lived on the fault-line between East and West Jerusalem and I continue to explore the relationship between Israel and Palestine, and the many Israels and Palestines that exist. Now living in Jaffa/Tel Aviv, these realities have multiplied.
These experiences have highlighted for me that there is no such thing as two clear sides in this conflict. Blacks are not blacks and whites are not white.
I first exhibited this project at Smith College May 2014. In the political atmosphere surrounding Israel and Palestine on our American college campus, I initially tried to make a project that was apolitical. I wanted to hold up photos of a time spent in Israel that could be just photos—a travel account of sights seen. But every idea morphed into something that was looking for meaning, looking to make a statement, or fearful of what statement would be hastily read between the lines.
I almost preferred to hide behind meaninglessness and allow the viewers to take what they would from it.
However, photos are always meaningful, even without the desire for them to be seen as such. My desire to create a project without meaning was contradictory to the very nature of the photos themselves.Therein lay my inspiration for a project on contradictions.
I began studying about Israel and Palestine in my first year at Smith. My mother is Israeli, and my entire family from her side lives in Israel. Yet, I was surprised when I first found out that the country had only been founded in 1948. From my childhood experiences, it was a place of never-ending summer, ice cream and cousins. Since that class, I’ve studied about Israel and Palestine and in Israel/Palestine on various occasions; I spent time in Jerusalem and Be'er Sheva learning Hebrew, and I’m now finishing a Masters in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies in Jerusalem and learning Arabic.
While living in Israel/Palestine, I have gotten to know my family. They represent a wide spectrum of Israeli society. Some cousins live in the North, surrounded by the call-to-prayer echoing off the neighboring hills and Arab villages. Others live in a Kibbutz in the Negev desert in the south: true pioneers of the Secular Labor Zionist project. My aunt meanwhile, lives in Jerusalem and is a part of the Ultra-Orthodox, Haredi community that rejects the State of Israel, claiming that it is not “Jewish” enough. My grandmother lived in the North where, while floating in the Kibbutz pool, you can see the confluence of the Syrian, Lebanese and Israeli borders collide. The total is 19 cousins in my generation alone: some are religious with 6 kids, some finishing their army service, some are studying, some are working.
From these experiences and my studies, I have found that Israel/Palestine is a country of contradictions; it can best be described as a place shaped by the friction between differences. Through these photographs, I hoped to expand the space that exists in the middle and to find the nuances in blacks and whites. Each photo series is a pair of subjects that represent the "opposite" end of the spectrum, yet the photos themselves are visually similar. Either in a similar line or curve, in the shadows, in the lights, in the balance of the photo--together these juxtapositions seek to highlight the nuances and challenge assumptions made at first glance.
This is an ongoing project and I hope that it provokes questions and a desire to learn more.