While my early training was in photo documentary, today my art varies from direct photography to experimental new media. In my practice, I am constantly wandering and observing my environment, through my art investigating the deeper layers and histories around me. I believe that we must cultivate and develop new relationships with our surroundings, including relationships with different people and communities, with scarred landscapes, or even with pieces of trash in the street. Art gives us the opportunity to connect with others and to rethink how we can imagine a better future. We can use art to bring hope, even if it is through a process of grieving of what we have lost. This imagining, grieving, and hoping can be reached through the process of art making and the results of the process.
It is my believe that to bring hope, art has to carry a critical aspect to it. My art and process are a result of many years of political approach and choices. Being a member of Activestills, a Palestinian and Israel photography collective, I decided in early stages of my artistic journey that one cannot ignore injustices and must make art within this context. But with current state of the world, it is often hard to find hope. It is my work with Palestinians, Tohono O’odham people, South African Farmworkers, or others, taught me that losing hope is a privilege. Hope can be a small act of sharing a meal or hiding together during a protest, or just listening if it is to people stories or to the sounds of the forest that stands few miles from a coal mine.
In recent years my art has investigated the relationships between humans and their environment in the context of our current global crisis. I create multiple artistic outcomes in response to ecological impacts such as drastic changes to the fire season on the west coast of the US, mountaintop removal in Appalachia, and water use in the Southwest. At the same time, I look closely at more localized and small changes: old pipes that are entwined with tree roots in a forest, trash and other objects that are left behind in the city and sounds that we have gotten used to in our daily life or those hidden sounds that we cannot hear.
Much of my work comes from the attraction to the materiality of objects and places, bringing with it the paradox of consumption that leads to pollution and comfort at the same time. I see the material aspect of a forest with all that lives and exists there, as not too different from a piece of coal. Both have immense histories that can be seen in their topography.
Through my practice I have always believed that photography carries the power for change, from change in someone’s personal life to wider social political change. This impact can be both to the photographer or to the people that are documented. When working and teaching people I have seen how the guided process of learning to be a photographer gave people an avenue to express themselves. In other cases, being in front of the camera and being seen did the same.
While my art used to carry a much more documentary nature, I started to create art that expands towards other approaches and aesthetics. With photography is still the center of my art practice, new tools and skills that have become more accessible are now also part of my artistic workflow: I use my phone as sketchbook, I take photos and videos, I use 3D scanning apps to expand the definition and use of what is seen as photography, and I record sounds with high-quality microphones and homemade devices alike., I use drone for aerial footage.
Together, my work is aimed at producing an immersive experience for the viewers, creating a space for wondering, contemplation, curiosity, or other emotional responses. I hope that, regardless of the often-eerie elements of the current state of the world, we can be inspired to think and imagine a better world for all those that live in it.