After returning from years of war coverage, Peter van Agtmael tries to piece together the memory, identity, race, class, and family, in a landscape which has become as surreal as the war he left behind.
Greetings from a Jordanian/Texan photographer and educator. My work is born out of long-term investments and collaborative methodology, blending ethnographic research and reportage. Known for producing sensitive work underscored by the absurd, my long-term projects focus on gender, representations of otherness, dispossession, and ever-shifting sociopolitical dynamics in MIDEAST. Occupied Pleasures was heralded by TIME magazine and Smithsonian as one of the best photo books of 2015, winning a World Press Photo award in 2014. My new work, The Un/Holy Land is an interactive documentary that takes viewers on a deep and multi-layered dive into the sacred and profane landscapes of Israel-Palestine, creating a new space to re-engage myth around rigid boundaries ascribed to faith, secularity, religion, and politics. The end product will be a storytelling web-app, offering people a multitude of ways to learn and unlearn the lay of the Un/Holy Land.
I aim for in-depth narratives that offer nuanced alternatives to mainstream media depictions of my subjects, often reflecting a desire to trace common humanity.
I am one of four mentors for the ground breaking educational Magnum Foundation initiative, Arab Photography Documentary Program. I am a proud member of NOOR, East Wing gallery, Ilex, and one of the founding members of Rawiya, the first all female photo collective of the Middle East. You can find me in East Jerusalem.
I am trained in journalism and anthropology with an MA in Global Media and emphasis on Middle East Politics from University of London SOAS. My work has been exhibited worldwide and is in the permanent collections of the MFA Boston, Institut du Monde Arab, and the Carnegie Museum of Art.
Occupied Pleasures presents a nuanced, multi-dimensional portrayal of humanity’s ability to find pleasure in the face of trying circumstances in Occupied West Bank, Jerusalem, and Gaza. Occupied Pleasures straddles passive and active meanings: to be occupied under Israel, and to occupy oneself, joyfully and defiantly, in pastime and simple pleasures. More than four million Palestinians live in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem, where the political situation regularly intrudes upon the most mundane of moments. Movement is circumscribed and threat of violence often hangs overhead. This creates the strongest of desires for the smallest of pleasures, and a sharp sense of humour about the absurdities that a 47-year occupation has produced.
Occupied Pleasures was heralded by TIME magazine and Smithsonian as one of the best photo books of 2015, winning a World Press Photo award in 2014.