Published on Domus 966

This report was created during the last two weeks of December 2012, twenty-one days after the most recent ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas, which was signed in Egypt. I arrived from Tel Aviv at the Erez crossing - in the north of the Gaza Strip - alone, on the last bus of the day. The other passengers - young israelis with green uniforms and assault rifles - had got off at a stop before me. Crossing a border on foot is the only way of experiencing its existence. The other way is when a border cages you in, as in Gaza, when it takes your freedom from you. The genuine, real privilege that we have in the west, I think, is this: the power to move as you wish (or almost). I cannot explain what the crossing is and what it means to pass through it - perhaps, for the more fortunate, carrying their houses each time, amid turnstiles, steel spider's webs and cages that extend for kilometres. Similarly, i cannot explain how you would get used to this, and how many lies are told. The crossing is a difficult privilege, one nobody complains about. On the other side of the crossing, beyond the aesthetic meditation that we are used to, there are the images that are presented on these pages. Beyond the conflict between individual freedom and strategies of enforced control, which affect, on the same level and in different ways, territories considered to differ greatly between them, there remain these portraits. Together, their story forms a collection of landscape, a series of schemas and well-known symbols. They are images that, in the absence of a contemporary iconography of the civic scene in those places, provide a "model reality": a descent into the "realm of the Mothers", as in Goethe's Faust. The rest is linked to this type of photography, understood as an experience and a vehicle of authenticity. These images are not a copy of reality, but the moment and the place in which reality itself appears, freed from any political speculation: a blank page. Behind themselves, these photographs, these landscape, hide brief stories of the inhabitants - as in a postcards.