GH0809, Artist Statement
The title of GH0809 is an abbreviation of ‘Gaza Houses 2008–2009’; its letters and numbers resembling an illusory real estate company.
The project was conceived after the army of the Israeli occupation launched a war on Gaza in 2008–09. This war claimed the lives of many Palestinian civilians, most of them children, caused by the widespread destruction of houses and facilities.
A large percentage of Gaza’s inhabitants live below the poverty line. To build a house takes someone’s entire family’s savings; it is likely the most important achievement of their lives. From the beginning, the Israeli occupation has deliberately used the destruction of homes as a means of collective punishment for Palestinians, thus destroying the inhabitants’ memories, and causing displacement and massive upheaval.
As I have been denied access into Gaza since 2006, I delegated the task of photographing the houses to the journalist Sami al-Ajrami. In a documentary or ‘neutral’ way, we gathered specific data on these houses to accompany the pictures, presenting each just as in the window of a real estate office. We were able to gather more than 150 images, and facts about 33 houses, some of which had been completely destroyed, and some damaged.
What concerns me here is the treatment of the topic, as is always the case in my works that take on the situation in Palestine. I use a visual frame derived from daily life by evoking commercial advertising, but with altered content. In this contradiction between form and content is an invitation to contemplate a reality far from the familiar, and beyond the scope of a journalistic report.
My works are perhaps less concerned with a specific topic or situation, and moreover an inquiry into representation itself, testing new forms and techniques, or reappropriating existing forms, in an attempt to challenge familiarity, whether the image in question is journalistic, documentary or ‘artistic’.