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Photography exhibition in Jaffa shows portraits of Palestinians living a lifetime of occupation

By Rhiannon F. - November 20, 2017
Section: [Main News] [Culture]
Tags: [photography] [Occupation]

The exhibition 'Fifty Years’ opened at Jaffa Salon of Art on Friday, showing fifty portraits of Palestinians born in 1967, emphasising half a century of occupation by Israel.

Running from November 17 for three weeks in Jaffa Port, the concept was developed by Human Rights Group B’Tselem and curated by Maayan Sheleff.

Israeli, Palestinian and international photographers exhibit portraits of Palestinians from different backgrounds, living across the Occupied Territories.

While the time period of occupation in Palestine can take different definitions and be dated earlier than 1967, B’Tselem decided on this date to symbolically show many people have lived an entire lifespan under occupation.

Exhibiting Photographer and Active Stills Member, Oren Ziv believes the public in Israel should see what is happening in the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza.

“Generally people here [in Israel] know of the separation policy, but a lot of Israelis don’t want to know how the Palestinians are living,” Ziv said in an interview with Palestine Monitor.

Ziv sees the benefit of having the exhibition in the touristic area of Jaffa, as well as in an open gallery without an entrance fee.

“I think lots of people will just come to wander around, so hopefully people who are not [aware of the reality], will come and see who these people are living under the occupation,” Ziv continued.

A gallery talk will also be held on November 24, providing time to discuss the project, ethical questions and different problems encountered, particularly power relations.


Exhibition Curator, Maayan Sheleff explains the power relations between the photographers, a lot of which are Israeli, and the subjects are relevant to the power relations played out within the occupation.

“The photographers document Palestinians in their homes, and afterwards they can return to their house. They have freedom of movement which the people who are photographed don’t have,” Sheleff explained.

Sheleff sees the exhibition as an attempt to humanise Palestinians in the eyes of the Israeli and global audience.

“I personally hope art can affect people’s minds and get them to think of their preconceptions,” Sheleff told Palestine Monitor.

“[The audience doesn’t] often see these people as human beings, they only see them in a certain context in the media, as terrorists or victims,” Sheleff continued.

Sheleff hopes the exhibition will make people more aware of their silence, state of privilege and potential role in fighting the occupation.

“The curatorial question is open for the viewers to think about what they can do to change the situation and decide what kind of responsibility they have.”


All photos courtesy of B'Tselem. From top: by Abed Saymah, Vardi Kahana, Oren Ziv, Eldad Refaeli.

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