Chic Jarrah | About the work
Every Friday since summer 2009, demonstrations of support and solidarity have taken place in Sheikh Jarrah. The once quiet Palestinian neighborhood in East Jerusalem, soon turned into one of the most sensitive political “ticking bombs” of the region. What started as a spontaneous joint Palestinian-Israeli protest against the eviction of local Palestinian families from their homes, became a symbol of the fight for freedom of speech following vigorous attempts by the police to put a quick end to the demonstrations.
Repeated mass arrests of protestors gave these weekly vigils a certain celebrity in Israel and around the world. I too was arrested by the police while photographing, and released, together with twenty-two other participants by order of the court. The experience of detention led me to create the photo series, “Chic Jarrah”, in which I attempted to bypass the dichotomous tendency of photojournalism to represent the protestors as either ‘lawbreakers’ or ‘freedom fighters’.
“Chic Jarrah” is the result of eighteen months of photographing demonstrators in the conflicted neighborhood. As my conceptual/formal strategy I decided to adopt the practice of “street fashion photography” – in which the photographer roams the streets of the metropolis on the look-out for individuals whose appearance catches his or her eye, asks of them to step out of the daily routine and submit themselves, on the street, to the act of photography. Chic Jarrah is a “demonstrator’s catalogue” that, among other things examines the demonstration as a social event.
In the region’s rapidly changing reality, the Sheik Jarrah demonstrations gradually faded in the last couple of years; however, they precipitated the creation of the social protest movement “Solidarity Sheikh Jarrah”, which activity served as the model for the large-scale social demonstrations in the summer of 2011, Israel’s equivalent to the American “Occupy” movement.
The series of photographs is accompanied by the essay “Twitter friendly radicals-on the representation of social struggles in the 21st century” by Boaz Levin (to view the essay Please click HERE).