art of resistance, Morocco

Harry Gruyaert | Morocco.

par43959//all images  © Harry Gruyaert/Magnum Photos//

Just last year, a first English language monograph of Harry Gruyaert’s work was published. Gruyaert is a famous Magnum photographer, and for the last four decades he has managed to surprise the world of photography.

His work is never about stereotypical exoticism, and he treats all of his subjects and all of the countries he wanders around with his camera the same way.


I like all of his work, especially the photos taken in Morocco between 1976 and 1988. Throughout most of those years Gruyaert worked out of a Volkswagen Kombi van, travelling from one place to the next, his cameras and equipment thrown in the back.

MOROCCO. Marrakech. In the medina (old district). 1981.

The way Gruyaert uses light, shapes and colors, transforms ordinary moments into art. The people in his photos get to keep their mystery, and that is a rare magic.

MOROCCO. Rif. Chechaouen. 1987. Street life in the Rif mountains. Walls are often painted in blue and white.

In an interview with the British Journal of Photography, Gruyaert said that he was always “interested in all the elements: the decor and the lighting and all the cars: the details were as important as humans”.

He captures people, but he also captures time, details, surroundings, context… It’s about humans being a part of, and not a whole.

MOROCCO. Essaouira. Ramparts & fortified walls of the city. 1976.

“It’s purely intuition. There’s no concept. Things attract me and it works both ways. I’m fascinated by the miracle where things come together in a way where things make sense to me, so there’s very little thinking”, Gruyaert explains.

To me, Gruyaert’s work is a wonderful way of taking in and capturing life, the way it is. He once said he discovered how to see – that might be the best way to describe what he does.

par44624//all images  © Harry Gruyaert/Magnum Photos//

• • •

For more on Gruyaert and his work, go to his Magnum profile.

art of resistance, Iran, Iraq, Israeli - Palestinian conflict, Syria, travel

Time Travel Booth: Middle East by Inge Morath.

IRAN. Yazd. 1956. Offerings in a Zoroastrian chapel.

IRAN. Yazd. 1956. Offerings in a Zoroastrian chapel.

Chris Boot, a former director of Magnum Photos, wrote the following lines about the great photographer Inge Morath:

Inge Morath was, above all, a traveller. Her approach to a story was ‘to let it grow’, without any apparent concern for narrative structure, trusting in her experience and interests to shape her work rather than in an editorial formula. She unsentimentally made pictures that were guided by her relationship to a place. These relationships were invariably intimate and long-lasting; she regularly revisited the places she chose to photograph and learned the relevant language… Similarly, her photographs of people are born of intimacy without sentimentality.”

Yes, Morath was a traveler, an observer of lives and places. Many of her travels included Middle East. Here are some of the photos she took around the region in the 50’s and 60’s.

IRAN. Tehran. 1956. In the market. Stalls with old books, gold teeth, samovars, and water pipes.

IRAN. Tehran. 1956. In the market. Stalls with old books, gold teeth, samovars, and water pipes.

IRAN. Tehran. 1956. Industrial landscape outside Tehran.

IRAN. Tehran. 1956. Industrial landscape outside Tehran.

IRAN. 1956. Near Rasht. Kurdish shepherd.

IRAN. 1956. Near Rasht. Kurdish shepherd.

IRAN. 1958. Public bath near the Caspian Sea.

IRAN. 1958. Public bath near the Caspian Sea.

IRAN. Tehran. 1956. Street musician performing.

IRAN. Tehran. 1956. Street musician performing.

IRAN. Yazd. 1956. View taken from the Minaret of the Mosque.

IRAN. Yazd. 1956. View taken from the Minaret of the Mosque.

IRAN. Isfahan. 1956. Photographer on the sidewalk of the Maidan-i Shah.

IRAN. Isfahan. 1956. Photographer on the sidewalk of the Maidan-i Shah.

IRAQ. 1956. Gypsies dancing in a camp near Catesiphon.

IRAQ. 1956. Gypsies dancing in a camp near Catesiphon.

IRAQ. Near Baghdad. 1956. Ruins of the Palace of Ctesiphon.

IRAQ. Near Baghdad. 1956. Ruins of the Palace of Ctesiphon.

Refugee camp. 1960.

Refugee camp. 1960.

JORDAN. Palestinian refugees at Muascar Camp near old Jerusalem. 1960

JORDAN. Palestinian refugees at Muascar Camp near old Jerusalem. 1960

DEIR EL BALAH (The Monastery at the Sea) Camp in Jabalya near Gaza.This is one of the best camp schools for refugee girls.They wear self made uniforms, desks have been made by refugee boys in the carpentry shop. In the background girls are having a sports class, behind the schoolyard, are the mud huts of the camp.

DEIR EL BALAH (The Monastery at the Sea) Camp in Jabalya near Gaza.This is one of the best camp schools for refugee girls.They wear self made uniforms, desks have been made by refugee boys in the carpentry shop. In the background girls are having a sports class, behind the schoolyard, are the mud huts of the camp.

LEBANON. Beirut. 1956. St. Simeon's beach. People rent small houses at this Mediterranean beach and many inhabitants spend their weekends and lunch hours there. Beirut was the only place in the Middle East where girls can go and sun-bathe in bikinis.

LEBANON. Beirut. 1956. St. Simeon’s beach. People rent small houses at this Mediterranean beach and many inhabitants spend their weekends and lunch hours there.

SYRIA. Palmyra. 1956.

SYRIA. Palmyra. 1956.


//all photos © Inge Morath/The Inge Morath Foundation/Magnum Photos//

• • •

For more on Inge Morath, visit The Inge Morath Foundation and Magnum Photos.

Previous Time Travel Booths:

70’s and 80’s Sudan by Abbas Habiballa

Palestine, First Intifada

20th Century Syria


Libya: A Story Forgotten.

Libya. A story forgotten. In Bedtime Reading for the Unborn Child, Libyan poet Khaled Mattawa writes: “Night girl, night girl/your book is full now/You have drawn all the pictures/You have seen many weepers.”


Unfortunately, it seems like it is still not time for dawn in Libya. The country was destroyed by a war prosecuted by NATO, and the wreckage is now more visible than ever. I went through the photos Magnum’s photographer Michael Christopher Brown took during the Libyan civil war in 2011. The paradoxes and ironies of these photos are so bitter and obvious, as I am reading news from Libya now, four years later.


Gaddafi’s death (the killing of Gaddafi) didn’t bring freedom. And it didn’t bring peace. NATO’s intervention in Libya was not, as many have praised it, a humanitarian success. It wasn’t, as it was hailed, a ‘model intervention’. It was a boomerang that came back to beat up the people of Libya.


Libya’s civil war continued, and the number of victimis (tens of thousands of civilians) continues to grow to this day. This so praised intervention was a model of failure (as most of the interventions are). We now know that Gaddafi did not initiate Libya’s violence by targeting peaceful protesters. The United Nations and Amnesty International have documented that in all four Libyan cities initially consumed by civil conflict in mid-February 2011—Benghazi, Al Bayda, Tripoli, and Misurata—violence was actually initiated by the protesters.


That is not to say that Gaddafi didn’t have his sins and his share of wrongdoings. But NATO’s main goal in Libya was not protecting civilians, it was not ‘justice, finally’. Its primary aim was to overthrow Gaddafi’s regime, even at the expense of increasing the harm to Libyans. And that is what happened.

NYC136529Libya is now a true victim of the Arab Cold War, where the regional entities are utilizing Libya as a battleground for their own particular policy, whether it’s Saudi Arabia and Egypt, on one side, or Turkey and Qatar, on the other. And now – the western governments remain silent. The American Embassy is no longer in Libya, it is in Malta. Not our business anymore.


The two competing governments in Libya are mainly fighting about oil, of course. The people of Libya are left to wander in the dark abyss, forgotten and ignored by their government(s) and by the international community.

NYC136549It’s a state of total chaos. Radical Islamist groups, which were suppressed under Gaddafi, emerged as the fiercest rebels during the war. And it is not just Libya. Mali, which previously had been the region’s exceptional example of peace (and democracy) went through many changes. After Gaddafi’s defeat, his ethnic Tuareg soldiers of Malian descent fled home and launched a rebellion in their country’s north, prompting the Malian army to overthrow the president. In 2012, the northern half of Mali had become ‘the largest territory controlled by Islamic extremists in the world,’ according to the chairman ofthe U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Africa.

NYC136560And now we have ISIL. The whole MENA region changed drastically. Libya, Syria, Iraq, Egypt… You name it. As Riverbend wrote: “When will things improve? When will be able to live normally? How long will it take?” These questions, asked by the ‘regular’ people, the biggest victims of all the conflicts that ever took place on this great Earth, are met with silence.


The silence, once again, drowns the screams. And peace? Peace is a dream buried by the indifference.

//all photos © Michael Christopher Brown/Magnum Photos, Libyan Civil War 2011//

• • •

For more on Libya, I recommend reading Alan J. Kuperman’s Lessons From Libya: How Not to Intervene.

art of resistance, Jordan, Syria

Inside Zaatari: Being a Teenager in a Refugee Camp.

Zaatari refugee camp is the world’s second largest refugee camp, a home to about 150,000 refugees (Fall 2013 estimates). Couple of months ago, I wrote about Rena Effendi’s project The Women of Zaatari Refugee Camp, and today I am happy to present a lovely initiative from Zaatari I stumbled upon this week. The tumblr site Inside Zaatari is run by teenagers living in the camp:

“We’re teenagers living in Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan, seven miles from the border of our home country, Syria. We’re using iPhone photography to document our lives.”

The site was created following a visit to Zaatari refugee camp by Magnum photographer Michael Christopher Brown. Brown spent a week in the camp in August, teaching iPhone photography skills to ten teenagers displaced by the ongoing conflict in Syria. Everything on the site is their photos, and their voices – a new and unique portrait of life as a teenager in a refugee camp.

Here are some of the photos together with their thoughts about this project.


“In the future, if I become a good photojournalist and if I become famous, I’ll get the chance to leave this place to take pictures.”            ► Khaled ◄



“When I hold the camera up to take a picture of someone I see things through the lens that can’t be seen with the naked eye.”             ► Samar ◄



“Being a good photographer does not depend on the kind of camera you have but on the way you take your pictures.” ► Nour ◄



“Photography gives me a space to express myself. It allows me to follow my dream to become a journalist.”     ► Hiba ◄



“The iphone project allowed me to move around the camp more than usual and to go to places I did not know.” ► Rahma ◄

tumblr_nel020Ducd1u1loybo1_1280/all images via Inside Zaatari/

For more on this lovely project supported by Save The Children, visit the Inside Zaatari tumblr.


art of resistance, Syria

The Theatre of War.

‘The Theatre of War‘ is an exhibition of photographs dedicated to the work of some of the newest members of Magnum: Peter Van Agtmael, Moises Saman, Jerome Sessini and limited edition posthumous prints by the late Tim Hetherington, whose Estate joined the agency after his death in Libya in April 2011.

The exhibition addresses the subject that Tim Hetherington was exploring in his photography, when he was tragically killed, which is the self-conscious theatricality of the combatants he documented as they played out their roles. This exhibition brings together a unique set of images which capture the protagonists of war and their stages – the territories over which these recent conflicts have raged: Liberia, Egypt, Syria and Libya.

The following photos are from Syria, and I am posting them here together with the verses of a great Syrian poet, Nizar Qabbani.

LON160682© Moises Saman/ Magnum Photos

أدمنت احزاني
فصرت اخاف ان لا احزنا
I got addicted to my sorrows,
Until I have gotten scared of not being sorrowed.

NYC133630© Moises Saman/ Magnum Photos

وطعنت آلافا من المرات
حتى صار يوجعني بان لا اطعنا
And I was stabbed thousands of times,
Until it felt painful not to be stabbed.

PAR433458© Jerome Sessini/ Magnum Photos

ولعنت في كل اللغات
حتى صار يقلقني بان لا العنا
And I was cursed in all the languages,
Until I started being nervous of not being cursed.

PAR433521© Jerome Sessini/ Magnum Photos

ولقد تشابهت كل البلاد
فلا ارى نفسي هناك، ولا ارى نفسي هنا
And all the countries seemed the same,
That I don’t see myself there, And I don’t see myself here.

For more on The Theatre of War exhibition, go to Magnum Photos.

art of resistance, Israel, Israeli - Palestinian conflict, Palestine

Gaza then, Gaza now.

On Monday, the Israeli military announced “Operation Protective Edge,” which it says aims to stop Palestinian rocket fire into southern Israel.  Today, Israel is launching new airstrikes on Gaza and violence is escalating as Israel bombs dozens of targets in the Gaza Strip and threatens a new full-scale assault. To prepare for a potential attack, Israel has called up more than 1,500 troops to fortify a contingent already massed along the Gaza border. There are calls from activists from both sides not to take part in these escalations – who believes in peace, refuses to join the war, they say.

Today, Suhad Abu Khdeir, the aunt of  Tariq Abu Khdeir, the 15-year-old Palestinian-American (cousin of murdered Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Khdeir) who was beaten up by Israeli forces several days ago, spoke to Democracy Now. “This is absolutely unjustifiable,” she said of Tariq’s beating. “You have three uniformed men, in full combat gear, against a 15-year-old.

Rachel Fraenkel, the mother of Naftali, one of the Israeli teenagers killed in the West Bank last month has spoken out against the murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir. This is what she said:

Even in the depth of the mourning over our son, it’s hard for me to describe how distressed we were over the outrage that happened in Jerusalem. The shedding of innocent blood is against morality. It’s against the Torah and Judaism. It’s against the basis of our life in this country. The murderers of our children, whoever sent them, whoever helped them, whoever incited towards that murder, will all be brought to justice. But it will be them and no innocent people. And it will be done by the government, the police, the Justice Department, and not by vigilantes. No mother or father should go through what we are going now, and we share the pain of the parents of Mohammed Abu Khdeir. The legacy of the life and death of Naftali, Eyal and Gilad is a legacy of love, of humanity, of national unity.

Yesterday, Washington Post published raw footage of deadly airstrikes on Gaza. In it, we see people running, people trapped under rubble and lifeless bodies on the street.

This could be another black scenario for Gaza and Palestinian people, and just to remind ourselves of the atrocities of 2008 (around 1200-1300 Palestinian deaths and 13 Israeli deaths/4 from friendly fire/), I am now posting the photos by Magnum’s Paolo Pellegrin, from his Gaza photo essay.

PAR445138(Twelve-year-old Khamis Abu Arab was playing outside when he found an undetonated shell. He brought it home, where it exploded in his face. A series of operations in an Israeli hospital removed shrapnel from his eyes but couldn’t restore his sight. Gaza, Palestine 2011. © Paolo Pellegrin/Magnum Photos)

PAR445147(Mohammad Al Ejla, 18, is seen in Gaza, Palestine 2012. Mohammad was just arriving to a shop to buy candles for his mother when a rocket exploded. Ten people were killed and many injured. Mohammad spent three days in Shifa hospital, and then he was transferred to a hospital in Egypt. He was in coma for a month. He lost his right arm, his left leg and suffered several shrapnel wounds. He still has some shrapnel in his face and his head. Mohammad was an apprentice at his uncle’s mechanic shop, but now he spends his days at home. He would need to be operated on again, to remove the last shrapnel pieces and also to be fitted with an artificial limb. © Paolo Pellegrin/Magnum Photos)

PAR457232(Jamila al Habash, 18 years old, is seen in Gaza, Palestine, 2012. Jamila 15 years, On January 4, 2009 was with her sister Shada, who was 10 yrs old, and three cousins. They were playing and feeding the pigeons on the roof. It was a quiet day, but suddenly a bomb hit the roof. Jamila lost both her legs above the knees. Her cousin Mohamed lost his foot. Her sister and her cousin Israa, who was 12 yrs old, were killed instantly. She was treated at Shifa Hospital in Gaza city and after 1 week she was moved to Saudi Arabia, where she stayed for 6 month. She was also operated in France, where they removed the shrapnels from her thighs. Jamila told us that her life will continue and she will study journalism at university, to become a journalist and expose the occupation crimes. © Paolo Pellegrin/Magnum Photos)

PAR457243(Khalil Al Jadili, 19 yrs old, is seen in Gaza, Palestine, in 2012.On January 16th, 2009, at around 4:00 p.m., all the family members were in the living room, when a shell hit the house and Khalil lost both his legs. His younger brother Abdel Hadi – then 14 – lost one eye and suffered many injuries in his face and chest. Their 8 yrs old brother, Mohanad, was injured seriously and died at the hospital. After the attack, Khalil lost consciousness and the 2nd day he was moved to Egypt, where he stayed for 2 months. Then he was treated in Slovenia for 3 weeks, to fix his artificial limbs. The Israelis tactic is to shell where they want to pass and Khalil and his family say this is the reason why their house was hit. Khalil now is practicing disable swimming sport and got medals in competitions. He is studying at the university now. © Paolo Pellegrin/Magnum Photos)

PAR457245(Emad Owda, 30 yrs old, is seen in Gaza, Palestine in 2012.It was late at night on January 14th, 2009 when Emad decided to flee the area, as his family already had, due to a massive shelling. He was with a friend when he was hit by a drone. His friend died immediately while he was left bleeding for 40 minutes with severe wounds. Then an ambulance arrived and took him to the hospital where he stayed for 3 days, before being transferred to Egypt. He lost a leg, while the other one is severely damaged. He also lost his right eye. He is a father of 3 children. He said that after the war he went to the PCHR center in the north of Gaza, in the Jabalia camp, to describe what happened to him. © Paolo Pellegrin/Magnum Photos)

PAR457267(Nawal Asfour, 54 years old, the mother of Ahmed Asfour, is seen in Gaza, Palestine in 2012. Nawal was cooking Ahmed’s favorite dish and was waiting for him, who was coming back for Friday’s lunch, when she heard the explosions and she cried saying that Ahmed was injured. She is a housekeeper and a mother of 3 sons and 4 daughters. His son Ahmed Samir Asfour, 23 yrs old, was hit twice by drones while he was coming back after the noon prayer with his three cousins, in front of their house, on January 9th, 2009. After one day in hospital, he was transferred to Egypt for 10 months where he underwent 10 operations. He lost two fingers, his pancreas and has many shrapnel wounds all over his body. His family tried to move him to St. Joseph Hospital in Jerusalem in coordination with the IDF, but when they arrived at the Erez checkpoint, Ahmed was assumed to have connections with the Goldstone report, so he was taken to jail. He stayed there for 30 months, while they moved him from Ashkelon to the military hospital in Be’er Sheva. The family received the first call from Ahmed after 15 months. On April 2012, he was released and returned to Gaza. Because he lost his pancreas, he has to receive four injections of insulin every day. Ahmed now is studying Journalism at university. © Paolo Pellegrin/Magnum Photos)

PAR457268(Najah Dader, 45 yrs old, is seen in Gaza city, Gaza, Palestine, 2012. During an intense shelling in the area where Najah lives with her family, on January 8th 2009, they decided to leave. Najah took 2 of her sons with her and left the house. After a while she decided to come back, because she thought that she had left a child behind, but when she came back home she didn’t find anyone there. So she went out again and she was hit while she was on the street. Najah suffered facial injuries as the laceration of the lower lip and she has had many plastic surgeries to connect the deformities. In the Shifa hospital they also had to cut her right hand. Then she was transferred to a hospital in Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, where she stayed for 3 month and underwent 7 operations. She had 3 more operations in Gaza, when she came back. The family tried to take her to Egypt for more operations she would need to have, but they couldn’t, because of the lack of resources. She was a seamstress, but now she is disabled and can’t work anymore, so the family income has completely dropped. © Paolo Pellegrin/Magnum Photos)

PAR457270(Majid Al Salibi, 6 yrs old, is seen in Khan Younis, Gaza, Palestine in 2012. The entire family was having lunch after Friday prayer on January 2nd 2009, when Israeli shells started hitting nearby. Majid, who was 3 yrs old, had already finished eating and was on the front door when he was wounded by an explosion. A piece of shrapnel cut through his right hand and wounded his left one. His father Hussein held him and walked 1 km to the Nasser hospital, where a team of French surgeons treated him. © Paolo Pellegrin/Magnum Photos)

To conclude this post, here is an excerpt from the Letter from Gaza (1956) by Ghassan Kanafani.

In the middle of the year, that year, the Jews bombarded the central district of Sabha and attacked Gaza, our Gaza, with bombs and flame-throwers. That event might have made some change in my routine, but there was nothing for me to take much notice of; I was going to leave. this Gaza behind me and go to California where I would live for myself, my own self which had suffered so long. I hated Gaza and its inhabitants. Everything in the amputated town reminded me of failed pictures painted in grey by a sick man. Yes, I would send my mother and my brother’s widow and her children a meagre sum to help them to live, but I would liberate myself from this last tie too, there in green California, far from the reek of defeat which for seven years had filled my nostrils. The sympathy which bound me to my brother’s children, their mother and mine would never be enough to justify my tragedy in taking this perpendicular dive. It mustn’t drag me any further down than it already had. I must flee!

You know these feelings, Mustafa, because you’ve really experienced them. What is this ill-defined tie we had with Gaza which blunted our enthusiasm for flight? Why didn’t we analyse the matter in such away as to give it a clear meaning? Why didn’t we leave this defeat with its wounds behind us and move on to a brighter future which would give us deeper consolation? Why? We didn’t exactly know.

When I went on holiday in June and assembled all my possessions, longing for the sweet departure, the start towards those little things which give life a nice, bright meaning, I found Gaza just as I had known it, closed like the introverted lining of a rusted snail-shell thrown up by the waves on the sticky, sandy shore by the slaughter-house. This Gaza was more cramped than the mind of a sleeper in the throes of a fearful nightmare, with its narrow streets which had their bulging balconies…this Gaza! But what are the obscure causes that draw a man to his family, his house, his memories, as a spring draws a small flock of mountain goats? I don’t know. All I know is that I went to my mother in our house that morning. When I arrived my late brother’s wife met me there and asked me,weeping, if I would do as her wounded daughter, Nadia, in Gaza hospital wished and visit her that evening. Do you know Nadia, my brother’s beautiful thirteen-year-old daughter?

That evening I bought a pound of apples and set out for the hospital to visit Nadia. I knew that there was something about it that my mother and my sister-in-law were hiding from me, something which their tongues could not utter, something strange which I could not put my finger on. I loved Nadia from habit, the same habit that made me love all that generation which had been so brought up on defeat and displacement that it had come to think that a happy life was a kind of social deviation.

What happened at that moment? I don’t know. I entered the white room very calm. Ill children have something of saintliness, and how much more so if the child is ill as result of cruel, painful wounds. Nadia was lying on her bed, her back propped up on a big pillow over which her hair was spread like a thick pelt. There was profound silence in her wide eyes and a tear always shining in the depths of her black pupils. Her face was calm and still but eloquent as the face of a tortured prophet might be. Nadia was still a child, but she seemed more than a child, much more, and older than a child, much older.


I’ve no idea whether I was the one who said it, or whether it was someone else behind me. But she raised her eyes to me and I felt them dissolve me like a piece of sugar that had fallen into a hot cup of tea. ‘

Together with her slight smile I heard her voice. “Uncle! Have you just come from Kuwait?”

Her voice broke in her throat, and she raised herself with the help of her hands and stretched out her neck towards me. I patted her back and sat down near her.

“Nadia! I’ve brought you presents from Kuwait, lots of presents. I’ll wait till you can leave your bed, completely well and healed, and you’ll come to my house and I’ll give them to you. I’ve bought you the red trousers you wrote and asked me for. Yes, I’ve bought them.”

It was a lie, born of the tense situation, but as I uttered it I felt that I was speaking the truth for the first time. Nadia trembled as though she had an electric shock and lowered her head in a terrible silence. I felt her tears wetting the back of my hand.

“Say something, Nadia! Don’t you want the red trousers?” She lifted her gaze to me and made as if to speak, but then she stopped, gritted her teeth and I heard her voice again, coming from faraway.


She stretched out her hand, lifted the white coverlet with her fingers and pointed to her leg, amputated from the top of the thigh.

My friend … Never shall I forget Nadia’s leg, amputated from the top of the thigh. No! Nor shall I forget the grief which had moulded her face and merged into its traits for ever. I went out of the hospital in Gaza that day, my hand clutched in silent derision on the two pounds I had brought with me to give Nadia. The blazing sun filled the streets with the colour of blood. And Gaza was brand new, Mustafa! You and I never saw it like this. The stone piled up at the beginning of the Shajiya quarter where we lived had a meaning, and they seemed to have been put there for no other reason but to explain it. This Gaza in which we had lived and with whose good people we had spent seven years of defeat was something new. It seemed to me just a beginning. I don’t know why I thought it was just a beginning. I imagined that the main street that I walked along on the way back home was only the beginning of a long, long road leading to Safad. Everything in this Gaza throbbed with sadness which was not confined to weeping. It was a challenge: more than that it was something like reclamation of the amputated leg!

I went out into the streets of Gaza, streets filled with blinding sunlight. They told me that Nadia had lost her leg when she threw herself on top of her little brothers and sisters to protect them from the bombs and flames that had fastened their claws into the house. Nadia could have saved herself, she could have run away, rescued her leg. But she didn’t.


No, my friend, I won’t come to Sacramento, and I’ve no regrets. No, and nor will I finish what we began together in childhood. This obscure feeling that you had as you left Gaza, this small feeling must grow into a giant deep within you. It must expand, you must seek it in order to find yourself, here among the ugly debris of defeat.

I won’t come to you. But you, return to us! Come back, to learn from Nadia’s leg, amputated from the top of the thigh, what life is and what existence is worth.

Come back, my friend! We are all waiting for you.

Algeria, art of resistance, Tunisia

North African Stories: Tunis & Algeria in 1950s.

I just stumbled upon George Rodger’s photos from Algeria in 1957 & Tunis in 1958. They are a part of Magnum’s North African Stories, Then & Now.

As they’ve described it on Magnum Photos Blog:

“Rodger’s work encapsulates Mid-20th Century photojournalistic practice, combining a spirit of adventure and ambition to objectively observe. In the 1940s and ‘50s Africa was still a continent relatively new to the medium of photography. Rodger first travelled there during the war following troop movements in Libya and Eritrea. In the foreword to his book, Desert Journey (1944), he writes: “the book is more a saga of travel than a chronicle of war. In it I make no pretence at analysis – no attempt to comment on the strategy of the various campaigns, to criticize the past or foretell the future. I write only of what I saw”. His photographs share a similar ambition, to report accurately and without exaggeration what was happening in front of him.”











tumblr_n1f17zQMBI1rouua1o9_r1_500all photos © Magnum Photos

For more on this story, go to Magnum Photos.

art of resistance, Iraq

Nina Simone and war(s) in Iraq.

Nina Simone was much more than a singer and her voice was much more than a voice – she was an activist, and her message went beyond music. She was a rebel with cause and her story remains inspirational. When she was 12,  during her first performance, her parents, who had taken seats in the front row, were forced to move to the back of the hall to make way for white people. Simone said she refused to play until her parents were moved back to the front.

Nina Simone©Getty Images

“I had spent many years pursuing excellence, because that is what classical music is all about… Now it was dedicated to freedom, and that was far more important.”

Nina Simone

She is one of those musicians I can always listen to. I’ve been listening to her music last couple of days too, mixed with news from Iraq. And – it’s always fascinating how different struggles of the world can seem so alike – because they’re struggles, beacuse there is pain, because there’s always big fish and small fish. And so it was with Nina Simone and Iraq – so here’s a combination of Simone’s songs and fresh Iraq photos, by Moises Saman, Magnum’s photographer.


Hound dogs on my trail
School children sitting in jail
Black cat cross my path
I think every day’s gonna be my last

Lord have mercy on this land of mine
We all gonna get it in due time
I don’t belong here
I don’t belong there
I’ve even stopped believing in prayer

Simone, Mississippi Godam


All I want is equality
for my sister my brother my people and me

Yes you lied to me all these years
You told me to wash and clean my ears
And talk real fine just like a lady
And you’d stop calling me Sister Sadie

Oh but this whole country is full of lies
You’re all gonna die and die like flies

Simone, Mississippi Goddam


But that’s just the trouble
“do it slow”
“do it slow”
Mass participation
“do it slow”
“do it slow”
Do things gradually
“do it slow”
But bring more tragedy
“do it slow”
Why don’t you see it
Why don’t you feel it
I don’t know
I don’t know

Simone, Mississippi Goddam


There is a beautiful land
Where all your dreams come true;
It’s all tied up in a rainbow,
All shiny and new;
But it’s not easy to find
No matter what you do.

Simone, Beautiful land


I said nobody knows you
When you’re down and out
In your pocket, you ain’t got one penny
And your friends, you didn’t have any

Simone, Nobody knows you when you’re down and out


Sit there and count the raindrops
Falling on you
It’s time you knew
All you can ever count on
Are the raindrops
That fall on little girl blue

Simone, Little girl blue


You looked for work and money
And you walked a rugged mile
You looked for work and money
And you walked a rugged mile
Your children are so hungry
That they don’t know how to smile

Your baby’s eyes look crazy
They’re a-tuggin’ at your sleeve
Your baby’s eyes look crazy
They’re a-tuggin’ at your sleeve
You walk the floor and wonder why
With every breath you breathe

Simone, The ballad of Hollis Brown


Breaking rocks out here on the chain gang
Breaking rocks and serving my time
Breaking rocks out here on the chain gang
Because they done convicted me of crime
Hold it steady right there while I hit it
Well reckon that ought to get it
Working and working
But I still got so terribly far to go

Simone, Chain Gang

NYC149890all photos ©Moises Saman/Magnum

For more on Saman’s photos from Iraq and his work in general, go to his Magnum profile.

art of resistance, Israel, Israeli - Palestinian conflict, Palestine

Anderson’s Bethlehem: Where do the children play.

Christopher Anderson was born in Canada and grew up in west Texas. He first gained recognition for his pictures in 1999 when he boarded a handmade, wooden boat with Haitian refugees trying to sail to America. The boat, named the Believe In God, sank in the Caribbean. In 2000 the images from that journey would receive the Robert Capa Gold Medal. They would also mark the emergence of an emotionally charged style that he refers to as “experiential documentary” and has come to characterize his work since. “Emotion or feeling is really the only thing about pictures I find interesting. Beyond that it is just a trick”, Anderson says.

He is well known and respected for many of his works, but to me, there are some that will always have a special place, and among the dearest is his Bethlehem series. I love how he manages to capture the brutality and limitations (like the wall, and numerous controls and checkpoints Palestinians face every day), because that is necessary – we need to be aware and need to “keep it real”. But, at the same time, Anderson does this wonderful thing – he also captures the freedom, the infinite beauty of a smile, or children’s play. We need that too, because that is where the power is hidden – power to change all those bad, “keep it real” facts. That is what keeps people alive, and not just merely surviving.

Artist statement

This is not how Mary and Joseph came into Bethlehem, but this is how you enter now. You wait at the wall. It’s a daunting concrete barricade, three stories high, thorned with razor wire. Standing beside it, you feel as if you’re at the base of a dam. Israeli soldiers armed with assault rifles examine your papers. They search your vehicle. No Israeli civilian, by military order, is allowed in. And few Bethlehem residents are permitted out, the reason the wall exists here, according to the Israeli government, is to keep terrorists away from Jerusalem.


anderson bethlehem





c. anderson

cristopher anderson

play anderson

NYC74773all photos © Christopher Anderson/Magnum Photos

For more of the magic Anderson does, visit his official website.

art of resistance, Israel, Israeli - Palestinian conflict, Palestine

One photo.

PAR457261©Paolo Pellegrin/Magnum Photos

 Sabah and Farah Abu Halima. Grandmother (47 yrs old) and granddaughter (6 yrs old) are seen in their home in Beit Lahia, Gaza, Palestine, 2012.

On January 4th 2009, during the Israeli ground invasion, there was a massive shelling and bombing throughout Gaza. The family, 16 members, was hiding in their home when it was hit and fire exploded everywhere. The explosion killed 12 members of the family included 5 kids, some of them were burned to death in front of Sabah, she said. While the wounded members of the family were taken to the hospital on a tractor, the Israeli soldiers stopped them on the way and shot them, killing three of them.
Farah, now 6 yrs old, suffered from burns all over her body and she was treated in California for 1 year. Ghada, Farah’s mother,
died 6 month later in an Egyptian hospital. Now Farah’s grandmother, Sabah, takes care of her. Also Sabah was severely injured,
she lost her husband and also one of her daughters died in her arms while she was breast-feeding.

For more of Pellegrin’s photography, go to his Magnum profile.