5cents a pound

An archive of inspiration, negotiating the world through artistic intervention

Pauline Beugnies: Rafah, a divided city, families separated - Egypt/ Gaza 2010

Artist Statement: Rafah, the palestinian, Rafah the egyptian, the city is divided since 1982, time of peace agrément between Israël and Egypt. For several years, the people could cross the border between Egypt and the Gaza strip quite easily. But for more than ten years now, the city is really cut in two parts, the « official » crossing became almost impossible. Keshta Clan live on both side of the border. Family traditionnaly from Rafah, the border isolated them from each other and reduce their exchanges. A majority of men in the clan are working in the smuggling tunnels, binding them to their egyptian brothers. Women mostly stay home with their children, they think this work in the tunnels is much too dangerous but they have no choice than to send their sons. The area is, since the blockade imposed by Israel to the Strip since 2007 and the Hamas taking power, full of smuggling tunnels. They allow the population to survive and give the islamist party a chance to rule. Oum Ahmed Keshta lives in the Philadelphia corridor with her husband and 6 children, they gave up their garden for a tunnel three years ago. Her sister lives in Egypt, they didn’t see each other since her wedding in 2004. Oum Bilal Keshta lives few meters from Oum Ahmed. From the terasse of her house, she is pointing the white tents, all tunnels and further, on the other side of the border, the balcony of her sister where some clothes are drying…

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