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It struck me that my understanding was wholly inadequate to accommodate what is shown in the picture, where “what is shown” is not a representation or interpretation but (a piece of) the world itself on a particular day.If we human animals are distinguished from other life forms by our ability to speak, an experience that leaves us speechless leaves us insecure in our humanity.
In our world, explosions are often proposed as solutions; so what is the problem?
The purpose of this essay is to ask about our relationship to the photograph, and since a world, or part of our world is made present in the photograph, about our relationship to the world insofar as it is revealed in the Gaza Photograph.
(All images from October and November 2013.)Geese at Medhat Hamad’s farm in Beit Hanoun. After school, their children and grandchidren come to the farm to play.
Their land was bulldozed several times by the Israeli army.
She refuses to leave her land and move from the ruins of her house and now lives in a shelter home next to her former house and land. In the last war in 2012, their house was occupied by the Israeli army.
They detained their father Mohammed for several days while their mother Jihan and their kids were forced to stay in the house with Israeli soldiers.
In Gaza, with the Israeli border within sight, Palestinian farmers lead worn-torn lives, dealing farming fields on the frontlines.
Trying to make a living cultivating crops like strawberries, oranges, grapefruits and olives, their task became even more difficult after a military blockade in 2007 made it impossible to export their products.
The structure of this essay is as follows: I begin with an abbreviated description of the 2014 military assault on the Gaza Strip known as “Operation Protective Edge.” The point is to suggest that together with its other objectives, one of this operation’s purposes (or less provocatively, one of its calculated effects) was to create a public spectacle, such that the world’s relationship to historical events would be as viewers, as an audience. The next section suggests that in our time the answer may be found in the way we look at photographs, a way of looking that is implied or required by certain aspects of the medium of photography as described by Stanley Cavell in his first book on movies, (1972).
But since one of Cavell’s central claims is that the medium of photography is revealed only in particular photographs, the essay investigates the structure of viewing implied in several photographs of subjects related to Operation Protective Edge.