“Occupied Pleasures”

Vibrant photos capture a different side of Palestinian life

When you think of Palestine, what comes to mind? Although life in occupied territories may seem dark and depressing, photographer Tanya Habjouqa embarked on a project to capture a different side of Palestinian life. It culminated in a photo book called Occupied Pleasures, which was judged by Time magazine as one of the best of 2015, and it’s a strong response to the “tired narrative” that people constantly associate with the area. “Israel and Palestine are almost always presented in a reductionist manner,” said Habjouqa. “Palestinians are either victims, or proponents, of violence.”

She admits that Palestinians were startled by her interest in documenting their happiness instead of their pain. “I had to foster their trust to convince them I was not working to show that things were actually ‘hunky-dory’ under occupation,” she told Thembi Mutch in an article for The Guardian. Her photos feature young women preparing for parties, playing on beaches, laughing at band practice, and waiting for waves. Gender is a powerful part of Habjouqa’s work – she has also photographed a Palestinian and Israeli drag queen community in Jerusalem, as well as the only all-female Palestinian car-racing team. “Many journalists have a timid paranoia when they portray this reality, trying to report this occupation in a supposedly balanced way that actually distorts the lived reality,” says Habjouqa. Her work is a fresh glimpse into everyday life in occupation, one that highlights the resilience of the region’s residents. One of her photography subjects told her something that rings true through her pictures: “No matter what this occupation does to us, we will always find a way to live and love – and maybe even laugh.”

Read the full story at The Guardian.


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