Ahlam Shibli احلام شبلي

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© Ahlam Shibli


Al-Khalil/Hebron, Palestine, 2016–17
series of 32 photographs, 26,7 x 40 cm; 40 × 26,7 cm; 40 × 60 cm; 60 × 40 cm; 100 × 150 cm, chromogenic prints

All the calamity of the occupation is concentrated in al-Khalil.

—Imad Hamdan, Director, Hebron Rehabilitation Committee

The foundation of Occupation (2016–17) is the destruction of Palestinian livelihood in al-Khalil (Hebron) and the occupied territories by the Israeli colonial regime and Zionist settlers.

The occupation, specifically the settler invasion, subjects the city of al-Khalil to continuous measures of adverse territorialization that are implemented and controlled by multiple types of checkpoints, walls, fences, barriers, surveillance cameras, rules, and orders. The photographs of Occupation trace the ways in which the settlers and the Palestinian population live in an asymmetrical relationship in al-Khalil, bound together in the limited space of the Old Town and confined to an environment defined by physical borders and perverse regulations.

The photographs record the signs of a disturbing duplicate inversion, among other things. On the one hand, the images indicate how the settlers—who have invaded the Palestinians' territory, preventing them from using their property, and disrupted their freedom of movement—create a prisonlike space for themselves. On the other hand, the photographs reveal how the Palestinians use the hardware of the separation implemented by the Israeli occupation—sheet metal, razor barbed wire, barrels filled with cement, fences, grids, nets, et cetera—to protect their own public spaces and their homes. It is as if the occupation had succeeded in making them occupy themselves, or as if the Palestinians were internalizing the effects of the imposed barriers by creating ever more of them on their own.

Research assistance by the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee (HRC, al-Khalil/Hebron, Palestine)
This work has been produced with the support of documenta 14 and the A. M. Qattan Foundation (Ramallah, Palestine).