Monday, March 01, 2021

"We Exist, We Resist" showcases resistance photography

By John Space - March 07, 2013
Section: [Main News] [Culture]
Tags: [culture] [Popular struggle committee] [photography]

Photos by John Space.

A new exhibition at the al-Bireh Cultural Center proves that photography can be a powerful tool in the struggle against the Israeli occupation.

Organized by the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee, the exhibition is called "We Exist, We Resist" and features around 50 photos by 12 different photographers, both Palestinian and international. 

Exhibit organizer Eloïse Bollack, a French photographer whose photos are on display, said the show emphasizes photos of resistance that send a message about the occupation.

"When you see soldiers stepping on a Palestinian civilian's neck, it's pretty strong and has a strong message. You don't even need to have captions next to this picture to obviously show that soldiers are abusing their force towards civilians," she said. "And what's strong in these pictures is that most of the time you can see very pacifist, very peaceful protesters holding just flags, holding roses, children whistling, or children making that victory sign facing soldiers with guns and tear gas canisters."

The PSCC has always incorporated photography into its struggle, but the scale of the exhibition represents a new stage in the organization's use of images to broadcast its message, Bollack said.

"I think it's a new step in our campaign to export these photos and to show to the world very strong images of what's happening, images that you would not see in the mainstream media. It's something pretty new and we're really willing to use it more and more in the future because we have amazing pictures of resistance actions and I think the world has to see these pictures," she said.

Photographer Fadi Arouri, who has several photos featured in the exhibit, said the exhibit's strength is in showing the history of the popular struggle and bringing it to center stage. 

"It shows the creativity of the popular struggle from the beginning until now… Photography and media was always part of the campaign," he said. "It never happened that Palestinian photographers were involved in a monthly exhibit like this. I've never seen an exhibit that unifies Palestinian and International photographers. I'm telling you, it's something unique to show the photographs from all over the cities of the West Bank and pictures throughout time."

Haroun Abu Arrah, a photographer who came to see the show, said the exhibit follows a tradition of cultural nonviolent resistance that has always existed in Palestine.

"Resistance is not only by guns, by rockets or by stones," he said. "My education was theater. We learned that theater can be resistance. On the stage, by the camera, by the microphone, by writing—each action you can do in your life, it could be resistance."

Cultural resistance is one of the most effective tools in spreading a message to the international community, Abu Arrah said.

"I want to resist against the Israeli occupation, but I don't believe in violence, I don't believe in killing or getting killed because we're all humans and getting more blood on the floor or getting more people killed, it's not a solution for us or for them," he said. "So the solution is to resist in a cultural way. Because in the cultural way, we reach the international community. More people will feel with us."

Around half of the photographers featured in the show are volunteers who are not paid for their work but continue taking photographs to contribute to the resistance, Bollack said.

"It's also a chance to give a voice to the volunteer amateur photographers who spend their money to buy a photo camera or spend all their Friday to report what's happening during the demonstrations and who are not earning any money from that," she said. "I think it's a good tribute also to these young photographers and I hope we're going to have more and more, but they have to be really careful because it's a very dangerous job."

The exhibition will be open from 10:00 am-6:00 pm until March 11 in the al-Bireh Cultural Center next to the Jerusalem Bus Station on Al Nahda Street.

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