Their innocent faces and miniscule bodies became part of the photographs in the photo book that I’ve been carrying around in my shoulder bag for the past few days. I needed the book to remind myself that I had a video interview to edit and finish.
Every single page in the book had a child, or two and more, huddled together, innocently smiling or gawking at the camera in bewilderment. Like an eye catching detail, painted with vivid colors in the edge, center or upper right or lower left of a painting, the Palestinian children standing next to graffiti art produced by the Hamas and Fatah artists give Mia Gröndahl’s Gaza Graffiti: Messages of Love and Politics a humanitarian aspect.
Gaza Graffiti: Messages of Love and Politics is more than a photo archive of the graffiti art movement in Gaza that according to the book started in 1987; it is a book reflective of a photojournalist’s journey; a photojournalist who was intent on capturing the bigger picture but found herself capturing pictures that came with smaller pictures within: The children of Gaza.
Gröndahl, who was born in 1951, and lives in Cairo and Southern Sweden, is a photojournalist and the author of another photo book In Hope and Despair: Life in the Palestinian Refugee Camp (AUC Press, 2003).
She was aided by Sami Abu Salem, a Palestinian journalist from Gaza, who eventually became her eyes and ears (her guide and interpreter).
Children with glittering eyes and friendly smiles peer into our own eyes through Gröndahl’s lens that also caught, as she puts it in the first pages of her book, the gray walls of Gaza that were heavily splashed with the spray paint colors of graffiti artists from Hamas and Fatah. The majority of graffiti pieces in this amazing book were produced part of an unofficial graffiti war between the two warring factions.
In Gaza Graffiti: Messages of Love and Politics you will find politicised graffiti art, slogans and murals of Palestinian martyrs from both sides of the Palestinian political spectrum. Some are amazing and some are simple; and you can also go as far as saying childish. You will also spot congratulatory letters of Hajj, marriage and other social occasions worth celebrating with a graffiti.
I had the pleasure of meeting Gröndahl and Abu Salem during the launch and signing of her book part of The Festival of Alternative Arts: Urban Expressions in 2010. Prior to our interview at books@café I interviewed Miss Gröndahl and Her Excellency Mrs. Charlotta Sparre on my morning radio show on 96.3 FM, Radio Jordan.
You can find the video interview that I conducted, shot and edited here. Just click on this link Gaza Graffiti: Messages of Love and Politics, The Interview
Blog post photo by Mia Gröndahl from Gaza Graffiti: Messages of Love and Politics