This project was conceptualized as a way to pay tribute to the fallen of the Aqsa Intifada, the uprising that began in Jerusalem on September 29th, 2000. The idea was to shine a Beacon of light onto the death surrounding us, to break the mind-numbing anonymity of daily death counts, and to honour the families who must live the absence of their loved ones and the injustice of their parting.
It seemed that the most humane way to honor the fallen "shuhada" is to celebrate their lives, with love and dignity. To try to see them as human beings - a boy, a teenager, a young man, a father, a grandfather, a grandmother. To try to feel what their lives encompassed, understanding their reality and dreams through an anecdote, a toy, or a photograph. The banality and fragility of each object helps us retrace a life, intact.
Etymologically, a "Shaheed" is also a "faithful witness". Thus, the reading of each life compellingly bears witness to a whole greater than the sum of the 100 biographies: An eloquent testimony to what it means to be a Palestinian. A condition transcending and determining the course of each life.
The "Shuhada", regardless of age, background or geographic origin, shared the reality of lives shackled by occupation. This starts with a family's loss and uprooting in the "Nakba". It continues with the subsequent denied opportunities, and miseries of the refugee's condition. It progresses with a litany of deprivation, servitude, interrupted childhoods, Odyssean like exiles, house demolitions, killings, injuries, and imprisonment. Even those whose lives appear removed from the yoke of occupation, succumbed to its reach with the timing and circumstances of their deaths.
Yet, these lives also portray the irrepressible human longing for freedom, and the indomitable spirit of struggle. We hope that one day we can go beyond honoring our dead, to live, as they should have been able to: free.
Credits: Concept, management and exhibition catalogue editing: Adila Laïdi-Hanieh. Exhibition curator: Samir Salameh.