"You can be forgiven for being confused, but you can't be forgiven for detaching yourself....."
John Ging, former Mission Director for UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, Gaza
We All Live in Gaza began as a video documentary to chronicle the lives of the men, women and children living under siege in the Gaza Strip. As the project has evolved over the past four years it has expanded and grown, now encompassing three distinct elements: a traveling photo installation; a humanitarian mission to Gaza; along with an online documentary series.
The documentary has recorded 70 hours of footage chronicling the lives of Gaza residents as they cope with the day to day realities of living under siege, 2011-2013. A 90 minute preview edit as been completed and has been shown to small groups throughout Europe and the Western U.S. Now, immediately after the recent 50 day bombardment campaign, the "indefinite" closure of the Egyptian/Gaza border, and the postponement of ceasefire negotiations, the need to continue video documentation takes on added urgency as there is limited coverage by Western media of the on-going suffocating affects of the siege and blockade. To this end an online real-time documentary series is being created to launch in May of this year under the title MISSION TO GAZA.
The multimedia photo installation was designed and assembled in the fall of 2014. It premiered at ArtPrize, a three week arts festival centered in Grand Rapids, Michigan, attended this year by over 400,000 visitors. Response to the installation, containing dozens of individual portraits and multiple video monitors was very encouraging adding momentum to the challenge of finding venues for displaying the work in the U.S. and internationally.
The humanitarian mission to Gaza grew out of the ArtPrize experience. While talking with the hundreds of visitors to the installation and watching from afar the destruction and horrific consequences of the conflict it became increasing clear that it was essential to do more than simply document conditions in the territory. There are positive, practical contributions that can be made on a human person- to-person scale. As such it is a moral imperative to try to implement them; specifically by bringing Biosand water filtration systems manufactured in the U.S. to Gaza for testing and deployment and to identify children with disfiguring or life-threatening conditions who can be brought back to America for treatment and rehabilitation.
None of the above is easy. There are severe logistical, political, social and economic barriers. To move forward is a daunting enterprise. Can one person, working independently do it.....it is a question that can only be answered by putting a 100% dedicated effort into the tasks ahead.....the challenge must be embraced with personal dignity, journalistic integrity, aesthetic purity, and most importantly with enough impact to improve a situation on the ground that should not, cannot be ignored.