'Between Two Seas'
Between Two Seas is a collection of photographic work taken in occupied Palestinian territories, Iraq and Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut, Lebanon. The exhibition is a body of work taken during time spent with communities in these regions of conflict that uses a mix of portrait, landscape and ‘street’ photography to explore the concept of ‘regime-made disaster’.
'Regime-made disaster' is a term coined by Ariella Azoulay which describes the condition in which a subjected population is consistently held in an injured position just above the point of humanitarian disaster. In this situation, populations are restricted, by an external power, from thriving (politically and/or economically) but it not allowed to fall into overt and severe humanitarian crisis. This potential crisis would draw heavy international condemnation and be viewed as too politically damaging for the controlling party or parties.
Violence in the 'regime-made disaster' zone is consistent, low intensity and directed at civilian populations often manifesting in forms of control such as restriction of movement and housing. The persistent and 'visually mundane' nature of this form of conflict (in comparison to open conflict) is
rarely reported by mainstream media outlets. Between Two Seas explores components of the 'matrix of control' used in the regime-made disaster' zones such checkpoints, restriction of movement and 'restricted' cross border bombings found in Palestine and northern Iraq.
The work was made during several trips to the Middle East with human rights advocacy and observation organisations. I spent several months in Bethlehem monitoring the humanitarian situation at military checkpoints and provided a unarmed protective international presence for students facing harassment by Israeli military on their way to and from school. During this time, I found the camera often took a secondary role with listening, documenting (in writing), speaking with and connecting with those living in these regions taking priority. The camera also served the dual purposes as being a tool of documentation and a reminder or deterrent to authorities (such as Israeli soldiers) that any actions that breached human rights law could be recorded.
By drawing attention to subtler forms of violence and oppression not usually represented in conventional media, Between Two Seas seeks to increase visual literacy of a region commonly misunderstood or misinterpreted in the Western world.
- Peter Morgan, 2018