|Between Fatah and Hamas.|
|Wedding graffiti for their brother.|
|After the war.|
|Palestine March 09.|
A Photo Exhibit
The sky is blue and beautiful, the road is lined with dusty bushes and trees, people move about on the streets, we drive past cars and donkey carts, but nothing seems to help. Our first impression of Gaza is depressingly grey.
As a result, the first explosion of colours is a most welcome change. And more await us as we travel farther into the densely populated area. Over every block, graffiti dances along the walls in every colour of the rainbow. Few rough surfaces are left to their otherwise grey, silent destiny. The walls of Gaza attract attention. The green, red, black, and yellow are screaming: Look at us! Read our messages!
Gaza is grey, poor, overpopulated by refugees, and has become known as a powder keg in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We rarely receive any other reports from this tormented desert strip. But many aspects of everyday life in Gaza, less familiar to the rest of the world, are worth discovering. The unique graffiti of the area is one example.
Gaza graffiti started in 1987, during the first uprising - or Intifada - against the Israeli occupation. At the time, there was a dearth of Palestinian TV, radio broadcasting, and newspapers in the Gaza Strip, and the messages that spread along the walls became an important means of communication. All political groups in Gaza - Fatah and Hamas bein- it has to look classy. As a consequence, Hamas even offers evening classes in graffiti.
Gaza Graffiti tells us about the many roles of graffiti in Gaza. Apart from political slogans, the walls bear witness to the joy and sadness of Gaza, the wedding ribbons being tied between young people, the many victims of the conflict, and the ever-present hope of peace and freedom. For us on the outside, the graffiti offers an exciting and unexpected view of life in Gaza.
Starting on 11 February at the Peace Center in Bethlehem, the photo exhibit Gaza Graffiti will tour the West Bank, Gaza, and, during the spring, several cities within Israel. The exhibit will stay ten days at each venue. Support for the exhibit has been provided by the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida).
About the photographer:
Journalist and photographer Mia Gröndahl became fascinated by the colourful graffiti of Gaza early on. But initially she only took occasional pictures; it didn’t feel right to spend her time shooting graffiti in an area with such urgent problems. Eventually, though, Mia Gröndahl could no longer resist the call from the walls: Look at us! Read our messages! Gröndahl has now documented graffiti in Gaza for more than seven years. That’s what makes this exhibit a totally unique document: no photographer before her has read and captured the messages of the walls continuously for such a long period of time. The photos are also published in the book: GAZA GRAFFITI - Messages of Love and Politics (Publisher: American University in Cairo Press).
Mia Gröndahl was born in 1951 and lives in Cairo and Österlen (southern Sweden). Apart from writing books, she works as a journalist, photographer, and instructor in photojournalism. Earlier books by Mia Gröndahl include The Dream of Jerusalem: Lewis Larsson and the American Colony Photographers and In Hope and Despair: Life in the Palestinian Refugee Camps.