Jerusalem through the eyes of Palestinians

February 15, 2016 /

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The P21 Gallery in London is presenting an exciting group exhibition entitled “Jerusalem / Home.” The exhibition is a combination of work from four photographers from Jerusalem, ceramic works by two London-based artists, and digital artworks by an American Palestinian artist.

Upon arrival the photographic images of Jerusalem highlights its beauty and holy sanctity. It is as though the viewer is seeing Jerusalem for the first time, free from occupation, colonisation and militarisation.

In the small gallery space refugee memories catch the viewers attention. The concept of home is an echoing reminder of the important link between home for Palestinians living under occupation and for Palestinian refugees.

The curator of the exhibition, Sara Foryame stated, “What we are trying to achieve with this exhibition is a kind of reflection on the idea of home as well as Jerusalem.”

The works by the artists seek to “project an image of the entirety of Jerusalem that is truer to its complex mixture of religious histories and cultures.” According to the P21, “the exhibition forms part of a larger movement to protect homes inside the Old City.”

FOA visited the gallery and interviewed some of the artists about their work and why the project was important to them.

Interview

FOA: What inspired your pieces? & Why do you think the project is important?

Marcella Mameli: 

I haven’t got the power to change reality, but I have got the power to talk about the horrible things that are happening in the world, about the lack of freedom or justice, the lack of human rights, and the daily humiliations that so many people, including children have to endure. Once I know what’s happening, I cannot stay silent any more. With my ceramics I was able to express my feelings. It’s my way of saying: “Why are we living our lives oblivious of other peoples sufferings?”

Salaam, is a recurring word in my ceramics, I love this word; I like to write it in Arabic, with the sinuous and gracious lines. It really makes me feel at peace when I look at them. I like to use Salaam as a greeting and as wishing peace (safety and protection) because it is something that we should all wish for each other, as we all long for peace.

Unfortunately, Al Quds, (Jerusalem) “The city of Peace” lacks peace and justice. If there were peace in the world, it would be fantastic! Sadly, for many people, this word is not a reality any more. The word has been misused and abused too many times, making the road to peace often too long and painful. That’s what I want to say with my ceramic tiles.

I couldn’t make any sense of the killing of the four little boys, Ahmed, Ismail, Mohamad and Zachariah, who were killed in the summer of 2014 in Gaza, by a bomb dropped from one of the most sophisticated warplanes. I could not make sense of the fact that precise, sophisticated and technologically advanced instruments on that plane could not spot four little boys playing innocent games on the beach!

Innocent Game from Sara on Vimeo.

After bombs were dropped in Gaza, I continued to see many torn and blooded little shoes, just lying there in the rubble or even collected in plastic bags. Those shoes used to belong to an innocent child, and now, they were either dead or injured, their lives changed forever. That’s when I decided to make the little shoes. It’s my way of saying why are we doing that to the children? Why are we, as a society, failing in giving the children a future worth living?

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Obayda Jamal 

I think the project is very important to show the world the beauty of this occupied place and to show how strong Palestinians are despite the occupation.

What inspired me in my pieces is the spirit of the places, as a landscape photographer I see how beautiful Al-Quds is and I see people pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque everyday, what a truly amazing place.

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Abdullah Hawash: 

My favourite categories for shooting photography are city, architectural and nature photography. I took my shots a day before the recent clashes in Palestine and so it was very difficult for me to enter Al-Aqsa. The first thing I did was take 18 shots to combine it in one panoramic view. Then I turned 180 degrees towards “The Dome of the Rock” I took multiple shots of this amazing landmark. That was one of my best pieces.

On the way back I took some shots in the old city of Jerusalem, which was a combination of city, architecture and street life photography. I went to the streets to document the daily life of Palestinians, showing the simplicity of living and how they deserve to live in dignity.

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Deeb Manal:

As a Palestinian living in exile since the age of 18, I have gone through many self-transformations in order to be able to cope with being away from my family and home.  From day one, making art has been an avenue in which I could vent out my daily desperation and anxiety.

The Jerusalem/Home exhibition at P21 Gallery in London provided an opportunity to show three of my well-recognised digital art pieces.  Each of the three digital arts provides a story and a history. A history that starts from the visionary that resides inside me, from Palestinians leaving their homes as refugees to a solid relationship with two artworks imprinting the “Dome of the Rock.”

Ranjena Gohel: 

My work explores my fascination with the meaning of home and homelands, adaptation to homelessness and depravation of national identity. I want to captures the yearning of people who make their own way, people who make their own homes, against all odds, against all predictions, fuelled and energised by the hope for a better life. It captures the relationships between the inhabitants and the spirit of community.

The UN reported that the refugee crisis is the biggest crisis since the Second World War. There are counties with social infrastructure at breaking point with the influx of people uprooted from their own homelands and making their homes in informal settlements characterised by makeshift housing and squalor. The residents suffer from a lack of clean water, sanitation and electricity but most importantly, mental and physical security.

I want to be able to remind all of us that our homes provides more than a roof over our heads and that we all deserve a safe and secure place to call home.