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Gaza- Air Photography

The series of paintings “Gaza- Air Photography” is part of a larger group of works carrying the same name. All the works were made on the basis of one air-photography of the Jabalia refugee camp taken from a Helicopter (flying low).
I reached the photography at the beginning of the El Akza Intifada, when I was looking for an air-photography of the Karni Barrier named after my father Joseph Karni.

My father, Joseph Karni was a citrus grower and among the pioneer citrus growers in the Land of Israel. He founded a packinghouse in Gazza at the end of the 1960’s (The Moshe Dayan period). He held extensive business and cultural relations with Palestinian citrus growers in the Gazza Strip.

That packinghouse was damaged through a number of terrorist attacks and in 1992 two of its managers were murdered by terrorists and then the place was shut down. Following the Oslo Agreement of 1994, the packinghouse was handed over to the Palestinian Authority.

Through the air photography of the Jabalia refugee camp in the Gaza strip, I discovered a reality that previously for me, only meant a mere name of a repressed and removed place called “Jabalia refugee Camp”. My observation of this photograph compelled me to see more. I saw very narrow alleys with a wide road crossing that tears the succession of these alleys. I saw bricks and car tires placed on tin roofs to keep them from blowing away in the wind, which seemed as folkloristic embroidery stitch that testifies about the people who are living there.

I saw solar water-heaters, wash hanging in the yards, smoke, flowing sewage, few trees in the yards.  I tried to see and I felt that I was failing time and again in my attempt to cross the screen of demonization and repression and permeate the sealed and esoteric entity that exist within it, the society, the culture, the families and the people.

The streets that are crossed in the refugee camp and its central junction form an emphatic sign with ample meanings, beyond its functional form on the camp’s map. This sign is a cross as well as a target mark on the shooting viewfinder of the helicopter scouting the target.  It is also a sign of crossing out – X – as it is used in visual culture of the masses.

I looked amply at the air photography of the Jabalia refugee camp but I remained distant from that place which we hardly know about its mere existence.  Nevertheless, that high and distant observation point does enable one to look at the refugee camp in Gaza, as a place that marks pain, fear, life and terror in its more comprehensive sense, in its global sense.

I started to work on the “Gaza- Air Photography” project in December 2001, two months after the eruption of the Intifada and the shutting down of the Karni Barrier and then in the years 2002 and 2003. The works were performed using various techniques: oil colors, mixed technique, photographic engraving and so on. The works were exhibited in “Hakkibutz” gallery in Tel Aviv, at the Exhibition for Contemporary Israeli Art in Beer Sheba and in additional exhibitions in Israel and abroad.