The Shared: Voicing the Private

Contributors: Loay Abu Aker, Wad Alfararjah, Ayed Arafah, Hamza Daghash, Moayed Al Qaisy.
Activated by: Ayed Arafah and Valentina Bonizzi
Pictures by: Moayed Al Qaisy

Families’ residents in Palestinian Refugee Camps are the direct testimonies of the transformative process of the everyday in the camps. The private familial space conserves an iconographic repertoire of photographic documents of the everyday in form of family albums or printed snapshots. The latters are the shared moments of events, celebrations, political gatherings which today exists alongside the digital snapshots of mobile phones and the narrative of social networks.

The nature of the printed images implies that they are privately shared and narrated and not publicly commented. These moments of sharing become one of the few settings where the private manifest itself in the overcrowded and permeable spaces of the refugee camps. Memory assumes an individual form in the camps, without losing the context of the collective political voice.

To preserve becomes an act of concealment in the camp when these photographs are threatened by the Israeli’s armies irruptions, which practice, after the usual irruption and violation into private spaces in the camp, is to erase the photographs, an act that can be translated in the intention of occulting the existing and transmittable memory of an entire community.

Voicing the Private is an initiative that intends to work with these photographs through the map of the five camps involved with Campus in Camps: Dheisheh, Arroub, Fawar, Beit Jebrin, Aida, with the aim of activating the historic memory of the common which, through the shared memory of the community, become the renewed ritual of the ‘social wedding’ of the community itself.

The projected photographs on the walls of the camps – which overcomes the traditional understanding of the dichotomy public and private – when they become the collective sight of the family archive with its meaning / sense of extended community, they generate a narrative short-circuit between memory and imaginary of the everyday.

Related Activities

→ May 8, 2014 – Questioning

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How do family photographs relate to moments of gathering of political resistance? How do pictorial black and white photographs of family life differ from family snapshots sometimes blurred and not posed? How do we feel about these images existing in the same space? Do photographs of people gathering for political resistance make sense if mixed with family snapshot?

Reflecting on these questions we decided to explore the photographic archive of family photographs starting from Dheisheh Refugee Camp with the aim of continuing the interventions in other camps in the future.
The photographs we decided to select for the intervention are images of everyday life in the camp. The aim of this first selection is start to unravel how people have been recording the everyday life during occupation and political struggle.

→ May 5-11, 2014 – Gathering

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The gathering process consisted in: contacting the participant’s personal networks and connecting with the camp social network. Gather the material given by the Dheisheh’s family and discuss what the images communicate. The community was an active participant in the process of building the intervention and they showed great enthusiasm and generosity in sharing their personal photographs. This part of the process deserves a reflection on how the act of sharing takes different forms and meanings depending on the means – weather technological or participatory – we use to do activate it.
The printed photographs that we encountered in this first stage are dated approximately between 1980 and 1990.

→ May 11, 2014 – First intervention

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At 20:30, on the wall opposite Ibdaa building, we projected the photographs. The intervention was visible from the main street. People from Dheisheh received an invitation and coffee and homemade cakes were offered during the projection.

→ May 24, 2014 – Second intervention

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At 20:30 we projected the photographs on the big wall of the new Ibdaa building. This time the intervention was visible from many places around the camp, and the projection could be seen from Doha City. We have been documenting the event from different points around the camp.