A site believed to be “Lot’s wife” on the Israel side of the Dead Sea. According to a Bible story, two salt pillars on either side of the Dead Sea — in Israel and Jordan — are said to be the petrified woman from the myth, which has come to symbolize the tragedy and temptation of leaving one’s home. (Photo by Tanya Habjouqa) A carpet remains on the ground near the site of the Bedouin village of Al-Araqeeb, which has been demolished over 110 times in five years. (Photo by Tanya Habjouqa)
This post is part of the In Sight series, “PHOTOGRAPHERS edit PHOTOGRAPHERS.” In this installment, NOOR photographer Nina Berman edits the work of her colleague, Jordanian photographer Tanya Habjouqa. Habjouqa is a founding member of Rawiya, the first all-female photo collective of the Middle East, and she is currently based in East Jerusalem. Habjouqa’s project, Occupied Pleasures, received support from the Magnum Foundation and achieved a World Press Photo award in 2014. Culminating in a namesake book by FotoEvidence, it was heralded by Time magazine and the Smithsonian Institution as one of the best photo books of 2015.
Here’s what Berman had to say about Habjouqa’s work:
I’m drawn to Tanya’s work because she never looks straight ahead, she’s always poking around in little corners and private places, trying to reveal confounding secrets and mysteries and layers of meaning. And she does it with an aesthetic that doesn’t slam you over the head. Which is quite a trick, to be subtle in the aesthetic but to have the pictures be so filled with provocation and mystery.
In the Unholy-Holy Land edit, I tried to connect images of lone individuals confronting or submerged in a landscape, to more domestic scenes where the ideas of play, performance and identity are still there, but more subdued.
I also chose images where one element confused me, where I kept looking and could never quite pin the picture down. That’s what I love about her work. I look at an image and it seems almost blasé and then it whips you around and I’m not sure what to think. I love that.
NOOR began as a group of very accomplished, insanely good conflict and war photographers, but within that, there was always an appreciation for some weirdness, subversion, something beyond the editorial space.
And so Tanya fits in perfectly. She’s telling stories about critical contemporary issues of land, power, resistance, survival and love, but doing it with a twist that’s all her own.
A Coptic Egyptian priest at the Dead Sea a day before the December bombing of the Coptic church in Cairo in 2016. (Photo by Tanya Habjouqa) A mural painted by Gershon Kochavi on the former site of the Lido Restaurant and Hotel, which operated until 1948, and later became militarized by the Jordanian and Israeli armies. (Photo by Tanya Habjouqa) Three generations of a Christian Palestinian family from Beit Sahour pose for a photo near their home. (Photo by Tanya Habjouqa) Gennady Nizhnik, tour guide and reenactor of the Battle of Hattin, stands in what was once the courtyard of the Crusader castle of Belmont and later the main square of the Palestinian village of Suba. (Photo by Tanya Habjouqa) Imam Samir A’assi of the Jazzar mosque in Acre holds a glass phial believed to contain a single hair of the prophet Muhammad. (Photo by Tanya Habjouqa) Yuval Ben Ami, a tourist guide, singer-songwriter and raconteur, originally from Jerusalem walks near Mount Sodom. (Photo by Tanya Habjouqa) Yossef, right, a follower of Rabbi Nachman of Breslav, a more mystical version of Judaism, shows his son a chicken for the yearly “kaparot” ritual — the passing of one’s sins onto a chicken that is ritually killed and is given to the poor for a holiday meal. (Photo by Tanya Habjouqa) Mohammad and Mariam Hussein at their home in Jalazoon refugee camp outside Ramallah. Their 8-year-old son wants to be an astronaut. (Photo by Tanya Habjouqa) Mati, an ideological settler, embraces her son. Until recently, she was a resident of Esh Kodesh an outpost the government consider illegal, yet Israeli soldiers keep watch there day and night. (Photo by Tanya Habjouqa) Issa Abu Nicolas, from Beit Jala, a majority-Christian Palestinian town west of Bethlehem, poses for a photo in front of his family’s land a week before Israel closed the gate leading to it. The Israeli military had previously uprooted hundreds of years old olive trees in his land and confiscated the area for the construction of the separation barrier. (Photo by Tanya Habjouqa) Tali (whose preferred pronoun is ‘they’) bind their breasts. Tali is a non-Zionist and a veteran of London’s diasporist Jewish scene who grew up in a reform Jewish family in north London. Later, as a philosophical scholar of religion and a critical reader of texts, Tali moved to Jerusalem. (Photo by Tanya Habjouqa) A tour group enters the Sea of Galilee, a believed site of Jesus’s baptism in Tiberius, Israel. Nowadays, the water level is artificially maintained. (Photo by Tanya Habjouqa)
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