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New London exhibition reveals daily life in Gaza

April 27, 2014 at 3:27 pm

A new exhibition aiming to shed light on the daily lives of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip has opened at the P21 Gallery in London.

The exhibition, called GAZA, features the work of six different artists and will be accompanied by a series of film screenings, performances, lectures and debates to invite viewers and participants to share the reality of daily life in the open-air prison that is Gaza.

While the Gaza Strip may be a tiny enclave, it is a rich society full of many contradictions.

Since 2006, Israel has enforced a strict siege of Gaza, preventing the necessary medicine, food and daily supplies that any human would require to live a dignified life in today’s world from entering into the Strip. Last week, the newly appointed United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) Commissioner-General called the Israeli blockade “a very extreme and illegal collective punishment” of Gaza’s 1.6 million residents.

Furthermore, Palestinians in Gaza are regularly faced with Israeli aerial strikes and have endured two major campaigns of aggression in the last six years alone, which destroyed homes, offices, schools, hospitals and other basic infrastructure.

To make matters worse, the Israeli blockade has placed many obstacles on Palestinians simply wanting to rebuild their lives and communities.

And yet as the work in GAZA attests, Palestinians living in the Strip are also incredibly resilient and determined to live their daily lives with dignity and on their own terms, despite their experiences of suffering under Israel’s occupation and draconian siege.

The exhibition features artwork across different media, including photography, videos and ink drawings, by the following six artists: Palestinian artist Mohamed Al-Hawajri, Gaza photographer Balal Khaled, Swedish photographer Kent Klich, Irish photographer Andrew McConnell, English artist Peter Rhoades and Belgian photographer Asmaa Seba.

Their collective work captures festive moments, family, interactions with nature and intimate portraits of domestic life within homes scarred by the wounds of war.

Perhaps the most compelling narratives of having endured great pain in the past but being determined to carry on in the here and now are those stripped bare through the eyes of childhood innocence, like the photography that Seba coproduced with Palestinian children.

As the GAZA press release notes: “With [international] press coverage overwhelmingly focusing on politics and conflict, it can be easy to forget the reality of day-to-day existence: study, entertainment, social and living environments. This exhibition aims to leave politics aside and focus on the people living in this small patch of land.”

The exhibition is free and runs until the end of May. For the location, hours and more details of the accompanying events, visit the P21 Gallery website.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.