• Dates
    2023 - 2024
  • Author
  • Topics Contemporary Issues, Documentary, Editorial, Festivals, Fine Art, Photobooks, Social Issues, War & Conflicts
  • Locations Hebron, Palestine

In ‘Om, the women of 8 families in Tel Rumeida, Hebron, photographed their homes with analogue cameras that produce images that are more ambiguous and feminine than the usual images of this region. It shows life and love in a violent place.


The carnage, the devastation and destruction in Gaza is unprecedented. For months now the outside world is screaming for a ceasefire. The unrelenting carpet bombing on this small densely populated area, the mass slaughter -70 procent women and children- presents nothing short of a genocide. In the West Bank, in Hebron, where I conducted this collective project 'Om with almost 50 women, the settler violence has risen since October 7th to extreme heights. The checkpoints are quasi closed, the settlers put on army uniforms and commit crimes in total impunity, soldiers are more aggressive than ever. When I started this project with analogue cameras, in an area of the Westbank where violence is endemic, in the beginning of February of 2023, long before the Hamas attack and the horrendous retaliation on Gaza - its citizens and infrastructure, life was very difficult for the Palestinian women I worked with. Now, it has become untenable.

'Om (Mother) is a photography project with all the women of 8 families in Tel Rumeida in Hebron, Palestine. Hebron is the only city on the Westbank, apart from Jerusalem, where Israeli settlers are living in the heart of a Palestinian city, which makes it one of the most explosive places in the Westbank, with a crowded mix of Palestinians, settlers, and soldiers (who are there for no other reason than to protect the Jewish settlers against the Palestinians). In this hood in H2 (the part of Hebron under strict military control, all Palestinians are subject to military law) is situated the Cave of Abraham, holy for both Jews and muslims and in Tel Rumeida specifically there is the Spring of Abraham and the graves of some patriarchs and matriarchs.  So it is not a surprise that in Tel Rumeida, a few of the most radical Israeli settlers in the whole Westbank are residing.

My presence here, like that of many other western photographers, video makers, activists and journalists is important to make the world aware and protect the people who suffer under this total system of apartheid. On top of the military occupation of their land, the lack of control of their lives and bodies, there is always the immediate threat of colonist-neighbours violently harassing them, which they do in total impunity. Men and women both suffer from this situation. But it is mostly men we see in videos or press items or on social media, confronting the violence on the streets or submitting to it. When in Tel Rumeida, the women do leave their house, to go to work, to the store or to school, they fear for their safety and that of their children and do not stay long on the streets to meet other women. Raising a family here and just staying in this incredibly violent place, that is threatening, always pregnant with imminent confrontations, and more so, by continuously creating a loving home for their children and family members, these women and girls are presenting the ultimate act of resistance to the military occupation that wants to expel them.

By handing the camera over to the women to photograph their life, house and surroundings, I handed over the control. As a photographer coming from the continent responsible for the suffering of the Palestinians, I felt it compulsory to embed this viewpoint in the formal conditions of the project. The camera is perhaps the most powerful weapon of the Palestinians, to document and expose what is happening inside the Westbank. And because of cultural reasons, the Tel Rumeida women were not keen to be in the picture, so in this way, as photographers, they took agency. The could control the image that is painted of their lives. And since the camera on the violence, on the deadlock politics surrounding the lives of the Palestinians in Tel Rumeida, is the digital camera, I decided for analogue photography to be the sole medium of these women. To convey something less tangible, less sharp, factual and ruthless, something more ambiguous, blurry, colourful and emotional, referencing to the messy notion of a loving home. The unpredictable character of the analogue, the light leaks, the mistakes, all that also corresponds seamlessly with the fact that these women are not in control of the violent context that surrounds them.

The women understood the concept perfectly. We saw each other daily during my different stays in Hebron in 2023. To talk, to eat, to change the film in their camera, to walk, to check the camera, to photograph together etc. We connected on many different levels and all of them are now my dear friends and some feel like family.

I feel very proud of our collective work and what we have accomplished together, of the beautiful process we went through. There is a book 'Om in the making, by The Eriskay Connection (NL). The book launches in Belgium in April will be in the presence of Aysha and Sundus, 2 young women from Tel Rumeida. All profits from the book and the project will go to the women's activities in Tel Rumeida, by YAS Center (language courses, yoga etc) believing that non-violent resistance and strengthening their community is the best strategy to fight the oppression they endure. It is precisely because of this elegant proud and calm resilience that Palestine is the moral issue for humanity. 'Om celebrates the spirit of female solidarity and courage, of Palestinian resilience, without heroism.

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