RAMALLAH April 14, 2014 (JMCC) - Photojournalist Tanya Habjouqa's images of Palestine
are full of humor and whimsy.
Most recently featured in Wired
, her photographs manage to convey the irony and laughter with which Palestinians cope with trying circumstances - throwing javalins behind walls, cruising past a military checkpoint with a sheep in the passenger's seat, or simply having a picnic.
The often lighthearted and sometimes bizarre shots filling Habjouqa’s series Occupied Pleasures are meant to help viewers re-see and reconsider a place too often reduced to conflict-fatigue. Habjouqa wants to show us that, even in the face of hardship, most people in Palestine are still trying to enjoy their lives.
“While extremely necessary, we have an overabundance of typical documentary photos from both sides,” says Habjouqa, who lives in East Jerusalem. “I think many viewers have become numb and cynical. I wanted to find a way to push them out of this cynicism.”
Habjouqa says the idea for the project came during a trip to Gaza. There she met a man who recently sneaked his bride in through one of the tunnels. Both Israel and Egypt had denied her regular access, so the couple did what it could. When the bride arrived, her hair was full of dirt, but he didn’t care. He was in love, and elated that she’d made it.
“He told me, ‘No matter what they do to us, we will not lose our will to live,’” Habjouqa says. “It was a nugget, and an idea that I filed away for later.”
Habjouqa pursued the project with the help of a Magnum grant and made most of the photos between January and September of 2013 while pregnant with her second child. The grant allowed her to take her time with the project, and many of the photos show scenes that she simply stumbled upon.
More photographs by Habjouqa can be viewed at her website and blog, www.tanyahabjouqa.com.