Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Occupied Pleasures

Captured the Joys in Gaza

Tanya Habjouqa—born in Jordan, raised in Texas, and is married to a Palestinian with an Israeli passport—has been working in the area for years.

She’s done her share of hard-news photography, but since 2009, she’s also been taking photos for her “Occupied Pleasures” series.

A book of them will be published in December. Habjouqa says she doesn’t want to trivialize her subjects’ difficulties by showing them in carefree moods, but those moods are real too.

“The humor, the sadness, the suffering, fear,” she says. “It is one giant cocktail here. Fluctuating in seconds.”

Andrew Bossone shared a link.

Two furniture makers take a break next to the barrier that separates the West Bank from Israel.

Habjouqa says she saw them repeatedly and slowly built up a relationship before she started photographing them.

From days at the beach to party preparations, Tanya Habjouqa offers a different look into life during conflict.

National Geographic photo editor Sherry Brukbacher spoke with Habjouqa about her work.

How has the political and religious situation changed since you started your project, and how has it affected your access and the acceptance of you as both a woman and a photographer?

With the Israeli economic siege and blockade of Gaza, it hinders every aspect of daily life.

Simultaneously, over the years Hamas has been able to operate their own fiefdom and restrict many aspects of life on the Palestinian population in Gaza.

I have noticed that police on the street felt entitled to question dress, even mine as a foreigner, which shocked me, as that is something that never happens in Palestine.

As to me as a photographer, I have not felt a restriction photographing in Palestinian society, be it in Gaza, West Bank, or East Jerusalem.

In Gaza for this project, I was heavily pregnant. The minute people would see me hobbling on a beach with my camera gear, they would invite me to sit down and talk, and often insisted on carrying my equipment.

And more doors would open when they would discover my husband was Palestinian.

What is your approach to photographing this project?

Do you carry your camera everywhere, hoping to find situations, or is it more deliberate?

I have found covering hard news in Palestine sometimes easier, as some feel a political obligation to talk to you about the suffering. But I was looking for something more intimate.

While you drive in West Bank, where the vast majority of my work is, you pass the same checkpoints. You wait.

You watch the symphony. Usually it is a boring one of frustrated, beeping cars, but sometimes the interactions and little moments of resistance are hilarious.

For a lot of the youths in my photos, Facebook served a great role of access. They may be uncertain about me and ask if I had Facebook.

It was almost as if they were online shopping me, in some cases. After a week, I would often hear back an invitation to come meet.

What’s different about a place where people “live” the conflict—where it’s part of their lives, maybe even their entire lives?

And how does your own experience growing up in the region affect this project?

For me, I am from a minority group in Jordan, Circassian, and half Texan to boot. I had a Jordanian grandfather who was a leader in the community and a Texan grandfather who was a deputy sheriff.

So I was always aware of the multiple narrations of identity and place.

Picture of young girl on beach in gaza

A young girl plays on the beach in the party dress she wore the night before at a wedding, at the Deir El Balah refugee camp in Gaza.

On top of this, I had covered journalistically the occupied Palestinian territories, in addition to spending a vast amount of time working in Iraq and Darfur.

I thought I knew Palestine. But I could not be prepared for what it would mean to make this place my home, which only happened because I married a Palestinian.

Me, who has always had a U.S. passport and lived with a certain certainty. Now I live in fear constantly that my residency visa will not be renewed.

I once woke up in the middle of the night ranting to my husband, who works in politics and human rights, over my fear of an upcoming ministry of interior meeting for my visa. He grunted back to sleep and said, “Tanya, never bring the Israelis into our bed again.”

So it is living with the ability to compartmentalize. To disassociate from the present.

What has the reaction to the work been so far?

When the work was first published, I was flooded by emails from Palestinians in diaspora who would sometimes simply write, “Thank you.” Or occasionally expand and say, “Thank you for showing us as we are, for allowing us to recognize ourselves.”

One woman told me about the work, “It is a reminder that the moment of happiness for us is a win outside of all the defeating moments. It’s a reminder it is OK to smile … that happiness is OK, not that you giving up but winning. Maintain your humanity.” I utilize a lot of humor, sarcasm; I think my scenes are quiet.

And what I am working on now, a long-term assignment from UNHCR on Syrian refugees in Jordan.

It is not allowing for a lot of humor at the moment. Now I am banging my head how to tackle this story, and where do you go after the image of Aylan Kurdi, the Syrian refugee washed ashore in toddler sleep position on a Turkish beach.

Maybe my attempt to utilize humor in my photography is a wishful approach in my work, as right now, living in a place where friends and family are being displaced or directly affected by the unfolding violence. It’s too close to home.

I am over the moon by my first U.S. Book review at the thoughtful intelligent hands of writer/editor/photographer Jen Tse. Thank you Olivier Laurent and time light box. Now the book is born and seen!

Occupied Pleasures shows humanity’s ability to find pleasure in trying circumstances


Lives of Palestinians in pictures

If you are considering a visit to Palestine and had never traveled there before, you need not imagine that going there is quite dangerous.

In the mainstream media, images of conflict permeate, along with the tragedy that is expressed afterwards.

While it may be interpreted as a melancholy environment, where an endless dissension between two people groups continues, there is still the spirit of life.

One that each human participates in, whether in an conflicted area or not.

East-Jerusalem based photographer Tanya Habjouqa has focused her work on photographing the Palestinian communities of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.

She captures a way of life that is not always seen by the public eye. Her series is titled “Occupied Pleasures,” and displays the Palestinian community enjoying the pleasures of life as any person would.

 posted this April 8, 2014

The Rarely-Seen Lives of Palestinians

Photographed by Tanya Habjouqa

palestine pleasure5

Teenage girls try on dresses for an upcoming dance at their private school in Ramallah.

Bodybuilders in Gaza show off the results of their work.

The images are striking yet simple and garnered her a World Press Photo award. Regarding the Occupied Pleasures work, Habjouqa says:

More than 4 million Palestinians live in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem, where the political situation regularly intrudes upon the most mundane of moments. Movement is circumscribed and threat of violence often hangs overhead.

This creates the strongest of desires for the smallest of pleasures, and a sharp sense of humor about the absurdities that a 47-year occupation has produced.

This is an exploration of the moments where ordinary men and women demonstrate a desire to live, not just simply survive.

A family and friends play cards on the roof in the Dheisheh Refugee Camp of Bethlehem

A yoga class in the outskirts of Bethlehem in the village of  Zataara.

Students from the  Al-Quds University javelin team finish up one last practice before the summer holiday begins.

A few boys enjoy a cool break from the heat in a small kiddie pool in the West Bank village of Kufr Ni’ma.

Two young women enjoy the view on the way up to the “Mount of Temptation” in a cable car in Jericho.

Young men enjoy some shisha in the natural setting of Ein Qiniya. A few Israeli settlements are nearby.

On the way to the Eid Celebration, a man enjoys a cigarette on the last day of Ramadan in the West Bank.

Some women model at the Intercontinental Bethlehem for upcoming designer Nadya Hazbunova.

The Gaza Parkour team practices in a cemetery on the outskirts of their refugee camp in Khan Younis, Gaza.
palestine parkhour

After final high school examinations, youth in Gaza flock to the sea and to the fun fair to let off steam
palestine pleasure2

Two furniture makers take a break in a pair of plush armchairs (of their creation) in the open-air in Hizma, against Israel’s 26-foot high Separation Wall.
palestine pleaure

14 year old Sabah Abu Ghanim, Gaza’s famous girl surfer, waits to catch a wave
palestine surfing

A young fiancee goes wedding dress shopping in Gaza. Her future husband is working in Libya, where she hopes to join him.
palestine wedding

A mobile toy store van cruises along the Gaza beach highway.

A young boy takes his donkey for a swim, and attempts to get him out near Gaza’s Deir al-Balah refugee camp.
Tanya-Habjouqa2_palestine 3

A family enjoys a picnic in Ein Qiniya, the nearest nature spot for families in Ramallah
palestinian pleausre 12

via featureshoot

Shawn Saleme is a full time writer for Visual News.

Having traveled to over 45 countries, his international escapades continue to influence his writing and perspective. When not in a foreign territory, he makes his home in his native San Francisco Bay Area. Become friends with him on Facebook and invite him to share drinks and stories with you.






November 2022

Blog Stats

  • 1,513,122 hits

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by

Join 820 other followers
%d bloggers like this: