They brought back some typical tourist baubles. A Bible with a cover made of olive wood. These things took up a prominent shelf space in the former Portuguese colonial apartment in Macau where I grew up with my family.
Many years later, after I stopped going to church and almost ‘lost my religion’, a new place was created in my heart and mind. When I was on my way, I spent several months in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza over the course of two years.
The hours spent clutching cameras and dodging tear gas and rubber bullets have opened my eyes to the complex and often controversial nature of the country. In short, it gave me a more solid and complete understanding of a country that always makes headlines in the news.
In addition to witnessing the hardships in Palestinian territory, I was introduced to the complexities of life within Israeli borders. , down to the Wailing Wall, this country is so much more than can be effectively represented through news images and stories. of course. All countries do.
Walking the streets of Jerusalem one Saturday, a taxi driver stopped in the middle of Jaffa Street brandishing a tire iron while dodging an Orthodox Jewish man who was trying to get him to keep the Sabbath and not drive. I remember seeing Other walks introduced me to Coptic Christians, Ethiopian Christians, American Christians carrying crosses, and more.
Israeli photographer Daniel Rolider’s work on a community of Eritrean asylum seekers living in the neighboring community of Hadar provides a rich addition to his portrayal of the complexities that exist between Israel’s borders.
Lowrider recently reached out to me about his project In Hadar Going Nowhere. Here’s what he had to say about it.
“In the Hadar district of Haifa, a community of Eritrean asylum seekers live in old houses that are now mere remnants of a golden age bygone. Between 10 and 700 Eritreans live in Hadar, one of Haifa’s most diverse neighborhoods, where they live in a low profile with limited access to health and welfare services. On the one hand, international law that protects individuals who meet the consensus definition of a “refugee” prevents Israel from deporting them. Meanwhile, the government has not approved asylum applications for Eritreans. The project combines documentary photography and written dialogue between Hadar, an Eritrean asylum seeker and men and women of his community who are single and married, to explore the harsh reality they have been forced into and the reality they have created. It aims to shed light on reality. themselves. “
Most Israeli asylum seekers crossed the Egyptian border between 2007 and 2012 to arrive in the Promised Land after fleeing a dictatorship that denied their citizens human rights. They were spared poverty, starvation, indefinite enlistment in the Eritrean army, and were subjected to inhumane conditions such as harsh manual labor and sexual exploitation. There are various reasons why Eritreans chose to flee to Israel. Some thought they would be welcomed with open arms, in light of their history of persecution among the Jews, or because of their deep religious ties, while others thought they would be kidnapped by Bedouin smugglers, Some were even forced to cross the border. I don’t even have the chance.
Through interviews and photos from the Hadar district, Eritrean asylum seekers told their stories. Even years after leaving their East African homeland, many Eritreans were still afraid to publicly disclose themselves and their stories. , their main concern is the physical and economic harm that the Eritrean government may impose on their stranded loved ones. Sources in the Hadar community say their government continues to track the activities of their citizens abroad to ensure they are not tarnishing their international image or empowering opposition groups. . To ensure their safety and form a collaborative platform for self-expression, they printed out the photos and gave them to the person who took the photo. Some chose to write their thoughts, feelings and messages on photographs, while others chose to hide their identities by painting their faces. ”
One of the most interesting and unimportant conversations taking place in the world of photography and photojournalism is the issue of representation. At this time, there does not appear to be consensus. On the one hand, there is the argument that outsiders don’t need to tell stories of people and places they aren’t from. These are important discussions whether or not everyone agrees on a solution. Just thinking about the subject will hopefully make for a more thoughtful job.
Lowrider’s work here is an interesting way to approach storytelling. By collaborating with the people he photographs and giving them the opportunity to speak for themselves and decide if they want to be seen in the traditional sense, Regardless, it has given them back a piece of the agency that was often taken away from them. Everyone should have an agency because everyone has a say. None of them necessarily need to be removed.
You can see more of Rolider’s work on his website here.