Gaza is a sore point in my heart as, in essence, it is an open air prison. It is one of the most densely populated areas on Earth and is cut off from any steady supply of the simplest needs. I saw 2 documentaries that brought into sharp focus its plight, highlighting very different aspects that brought home the depth of suffering that is a part of the daily life inside Gaza.
The first one was called Gaza Strip. I remember being struck by the honesty of it. It’s as if the camera was just plopped onto the scene with no agenda but to record truth and it did. The second one was Gaza Surf. In one scene, a surfer mentioned how it’d be easier for him to lose a child than his surfboard because he couldn’t replace his surfboard. Now don’t go thinking what a cold man, think more along the lines of what kind of hellish imprisonment is he living inside his mind. The suggestion that surfing is his only release and that he just couldn’t live without it. Critical materials that are used to make surf boards are not allowed to be imported in Gaza. That sentence and his face haunt me.
I am sorry this post is intense, but Gaza is in an impossible situation of daily suffering. This brings us to the main focus of this post which is daily life in Gaza and how it has been exposed through an experiential exhibit, entitled ‘In Between Wars’. The first installation I encountered at the exhibition was a wall filled with information giving context for what I was about to experience within the larger context of the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
A gracious and serious young Emirati woman welcomed my friend and I, and explained to us how to use our iPads and headsets as we walked through the maze of everyday life in Gaza. We walked through a street and a home setting, a hospital and a checkpoint. You will see more through the photos in the exhibit section of this post.
It would be remiss of me not to mention both the wonderful organization that created this exhibit, Doctors Without Borders and the space that hosted it, Jam Jar. I had heard on many occasions of Doctors Without Borders and loved what they stood for and did in the name of humanity. But, my respect was elevated to another level when I saw the lengths they went to installing this smartly designed and information-packed exhibit. Now that’s a fabulous use of the arts and interactivity!
The jam jar is also a favorite of mine, since I first came to Dubai. It has an authentic feel and what’s not to love about entering a space that provides you with all the paint you could want and a canvas in many a size, hehe. I knew they also showed movies and offered space for parties, and this, for me, was further proof of the human touch behind their project. I salute them both for the courage and humanity to speak up about the unacceptable circumstances of Gaza in between wars as it tends to be forgotten as if everything is ok. It is not ok and it is not ok to not support in all the ways we can.
In Between Wars
EXPLORE In Between Wars
In Between Wars is an exhibition reconstructing the daily lives of Doctors Without Borders' patients and collaborators in Gaza and expresses the refusal to help trivialize the unacceptable.
DISCOVER Doctors Without Borders
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) also known in English as, Doctors Without Borders, is an international humanitarian medical non-governmental organisation (NGO) of French origin best known for its projects in conflict zones and in countries affected by endemic diseases.
VISIT The Jam Jar
Founded in 2005, thejamjar began the region's first public DIY painting studio, annual exhibition and events calendar presenting visual art, film, music, theatre and more. thejamjar prides itself on making art accessible to everyone by creating a platform for dialogue and interaction among like-minded individuals.
WATCH Gaza Strip, a documentary
In early 2001 James Longley spent three months in Gaza filming material for his documentary, GAZA STRIP, working with local fixer and translator, Mohammed Mohanna. The second Palestinian uprising against Israeli military occupation had begun in September, 2000, four months before he started filming.
WATCH Gaza Surf Club, a documentary
The Gaza Surf Club was founded in 2008 by Explore Corps to serve as an educational and community development resource for Palestinian surfers in the Gaza Strip. Explore Corps works hand in hand with the surfers to create custom-tailored educational programming and opportunities with an emphasis on local resource development, training and international outreach.