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ESSAY CONTAINS EXPLICIT CONTENT
Tilde De Wandel
Winter 2008-2009. Israel bombs Gaza for 3 weeks. Operation ‘Cast Lead’ kills over 1400 people. I watch the news channels and develop the strong desire to go there and experiencing the life in a war zone. I leave but I don’t get further than the West Bank.
Life under occupation intrigues me. An external power dominating your life. Being a prisoner in your own country.
June 2010. I finally manage to enter Gaza. I am confronted with a harder external structure, Israel.
I notice the ruins of a war and a besieged life. A smashed down economy and a dangerous underground replacement. A constant threat overhead, and a life that tries to find its way while constantly being watched over and controlled.
I discover the buffer zone. The literal boundary between life and death. I meet the inhabitants and their ‘we are already dead’ slogan. It feels like a suicidal struggle.
The buffer zone, the emptiness of life snatched away. A constant threat of death while inside. External forces make decisions over the life of those who want to fight, but also those who just want to live and survive.
I can’t count the dead and injured any more since I arrived. I can’t get used to the brutal circumstances in which this occurs.
There is more, there is the emptiness of life, the stolen dreams. Fantasies seems to be reduced to a strict observance of religion. As if Allah is the only one who cares about them.
Belgium seems far away, but it means I experience this life entirely. The best way to understand is to undergo.
What I get, I can’t put aside. I’m a photographer, I grab what I feel and I share.
I live my life on the go, physically and mentally. I choose to displace myself physically in different atmospheres.
I started my photographic work while watching myself in a changing environment. The only thing I don’t want is to get locked into the structure of day to day life. I reject it, and launch myself at completely different structures. I bump, discover, rediscover and improve my thinking, my understanding of the world.
I was born in Belgium, 1981. I studied nutrition and worked in South Africa before pursuing a degree in photography at the Academie voor Beeldende Kunst- Gents, which I finished in 2009. I have been working in Gaza since June 2010, and plan to continue working in the region.