Rula Halawani

Jerusalem 1964. Lives and works in Jerusalem.

"I started documenting the wall almost from when they started building it, but each time I developed the pictures all that showed was its ugliness and my anger. Then the wall reached Qalandia checkpoint. They started building it right in the middle of the road, my road to work. I always fantasized that one day we would plant trees in the middle of that road. Once it reached Qalandia, the wall reached me and found my fear. They put down the foundations, stopped for a while and then they put it up block by block along the middle of the road.

I wanted to photograph it at night. Maybe to let it know I wasn’t scared. I went. The wall was so ugly, the land sad and scarred. There were only soldiers, heavy machines and the sound of dogs barking. I was terrified and desolate. I took the photographs during the day, but the memory of that night was in them.

After I finished the project, one night and I do not know why, but I suddenly felt I needed to go and see the wall. It was the Jewish New Year. It was almost midnight but I jumped in my car and went back. I drove all along the wall and arrived back at my first night there, at the place with the heavy machines and barking dogs. They were all locked up. I enjoyed the scene. I returned home through the Mount of Olives, where I first stepped foot on this earth, my earth. I got out and looked and made a promise, a promise to my Land."

- Rula Halawani
The Wall and the Checkpointsexhibition catalog published by Darat al Funun - The Khalid Shoman Foundation, 2006

“Ten years ago when the peace process first started, I like many other Palestinians was ready to give peace a chance. As the peace process developed, the events that followed filled me with worry: the worry of losing my city, Jerusalem, and the right of exiled Palestinians to return to their homeland. The days went by and in my eyes things only got worse: more of the land was taken; more Israeli settlements appeared on Palestinian land, more killings.

On the 28th of March 2002, I was in Ramallah when the major Israeli Incursion happened, I was shocked; everything around me looked so different. Every street and square I visited was dark and empty; no one was in the streets that day except the Israeli army and its tanks. I felt depressed and cold. The only Palestinian I met on the road that day was an old man. He was shot dead. I never knew his name, but I had seen him walking around those same streets before. That night I could not take away his face from my memory, and many questions without answers rushed inside my head. It was that night that my hopes for peace died.”

- Rula Halawani,
Negative Incursion series, 2002

Rula  Halawani  holds  a  Bachelor  of  Art  in  Advanced Photography from the University of Saskatchewan in Canada (1989); and a Master of Art in Photographic Studies from the University of Westminster, London (2001). Halawani is based in Jerusalem, where, in addition to her artistic practice, she was the founding director and an associate professor of the Photography program at Birzeit University.