tilde de wandel – gaza

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Tilde De Wandel


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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.


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141 Responses to “tilde de wandel – gaza”

  • …that was arguably the most bitter post on this thread?

    satire maybe?

    nobody is saying that we should ignore conflict photography, or the myriad conflicts in our world today.


  • Bigg don’t stress.. It’s just Michael’s sense of humor…;)

  • ahhh.

    i had a hunch.


  • No worries.. It’s very easy to take things personal here.. It happened/happens to all of us..
    It’s part of the never-ending initiation on pretty much every site and every blog on the web.. Controversy and misunderstandings everywhere humans are…

  • MW

    “Pete, I think you are being far to kind to those who may mildly disagree with you”

    Yeah, I must be in a good mood today… (grin)

  • pete – why sour grapes?
    anyone can get on a plane and go photograph something awful.. repetative or not.

  • No worries.. It’s very easy to take things personal here.. It happened/happens to all of us..
    It’s part of the never-ending initiation on pretty much every site and every blog on the web.. Controversy and misunderstandings everywhere humans are…
    Talking about wars? Huh? Laughing…
    We practice it with any given chance… Is it human nature???
    Is it part of our soul? Let me go back to my Nietzsche’s books to see what he says about it..
    Laughing … Laughing…!!!

  • Misery is “easy”… Set camera on autofocus and close your eyes…

  • Zoriah sweating at Lightstalkers (after removing his first post there regarding Haiti workshop)


  • ¨rather that they might be educated enough to discern the pictures have nothing new to tell them. So they actively pass them over.¨

    would be great to hear from the photographer..
    tilde.. calling tilde..

  • “Since I never intended to get rich from this workshop, I realize I need a way of making that clear. I do believe I should be paid for my time, and that teaching is just as important as shooting for publications. However, I understand that the idea that if I got four students to sign up I would gross $8000 is unsettling.”

    From Zoriah link above… Who said PJ’s are only to “enlighten” the world??
    It’s also a good, great, profitable business … (grin)

  • Yea, for those unaccustomed, I meant that as light-hearted joking, just my way of saying that the sour grapes charge may have been a tad bit unfair. I don’t think that anyone that’s commented is opposed to conflict journalism or thinks it shouldn’t be done. All I’m seeing is that some aren’t personally interested in seeing any more of it and/or don’t think it likely to be effective, feelings about which reasonable people can disagree.

  • See Bigg?
    Told ya.. Mike is a cool guy..! Trust me I’ve been around this blog for a while..!
    Big hug

  • David Bowen

    “pete – why sour grapes?
    anyone can get on a plane and go photograph something awful.. repetative or not.”

    I don’t know why someone may be sour…. but no anyone cannot just get on a plane. I am sure there are many reasons that a photographer may not be able to just pick up and leave. Lets see.. wife, kids, other responsibilities, no funding etc. All of these are valid. I am sure there are more.

    And after talking with photographers that have been in war zones, no, not everyone can do it.

  • “Funeral of a 20 year old man, killed by shelling from an Israeli warplane. He was in the border area with two friends, launching a mortar shell towards Israel. All three were killed.”

    All three were killed? My my, this seems a bit of an overreaction to some harmless fun. Some people are so touchy.

  • Akakyevits once again u r taking sides.. Your PJ career is now officially over..
    (on a serious note: your joke wasn’t funny at all)
    I know u don’t take the rest of the world seriously but trust me there’s more out there than our town and our retirement funds…

  • And Akaky probably the dead deserved it! Maybe they were “gay” maybe “non white”.. maybe immigrants..
    “don’t ask don’t tell” policy is not valid in middle east..
    Maybe they got punished by God AlMighty.. Who knows?

  • Viva the Evangellicans Christians …
    Viva the Right Wing
    Viva to the Republicans.. Elections soon..
    Immigrant myself Akaky too bad I’m allowed to vote..

  • Panos, in this particular case, the three dead men did deserve what happened to them. When you lob mortar shells into Israel, you shouldn’t be surprised that the Israelis lob something heavier back at you. The law of cause and effect works in politics just as it does in physics, or as Clausewitz put it, “In war the will is directed at an animate object that reacts.” What did these three guys expect? That the Israelis were just going to sit there and take it?

  • i think i can dig this then.

    good stuff

  • Akaky, I’ll let someone else respond man.. It’s ok.. I give up..

  • The good old tricky question of “who was there first? The egg or the chicken?”

  • The photos by Adams and Ut helped change the direction of the Vietnam war. Many believe that these photos and a handful of others changed history…… that was a long time ago the Vietnam war finished in 1975 but was done and dusted well before that a completely different media playing field before the wwwdot world, before cheap wires, before camera phones etc. and photographs were fewer and further between. The world has changed a heck of a lot since 1975, most people have moved on and a huge swag were not even born then, attitudes towards photography have changed…….. You Tube ,flickr,facebook and millions of blogs……….. carpet bombs of images no longer carpet bombing Vietnam/Cambodia.

  • .” What did these three guys expect? That the Israelis were just going to sit there and take it?
    Or vice versa Akaky.. From the way you write it seems that u know who started it all.. Who was there first.. Who is attacking and who is defending? Do you claim to know..
    Coz honestly I don’t .. And of the reason I would ever cover this war is for my personal anxiety to know.. For my soul.. Coz I would want to know.. Not to stop the war and pretend I’m enlightening people.. That’s bullshit.. No way any amazing photog in the world could never convince the opposite site to what’s right.. People will always believe what they’ve been told.. And that goes for both sides.. They are both the “enemy attacker” and they are both the “honest defender”.. Anytime, all the time.. Same coin different side.. And if I storm into your house to rob you wouldn’t you defend yourself? Or would you say that nevermind , this burglar has a bigger gun so let me bend over and get raped?
    And remember that goes for both sides..
    For the Israeli the Palestinian is the burglar and for the Palestinian it is the Israeli that is the burglar …

  • P marovitch
    The photos by Adams and Ut helped change the direction of the Vietnam war

    That was when photography and the visual did indeed make a difference, sometimes. 40+ years ago, Pete. There are probaly been 4 or 5 times, maybe 10 times, more photography disseminated in the last 30 years than in the entire history of mass media before. Why deny it does have an effect, or that it should not, for the sake of personal concernedness?
    I find hard to blame either the photographer or the viewer, personally (though I would the photographer if he/she is merely globe-trotting to make a career out of adrenaline-pumped conflict photography).

    We need to see how information, visual and else, is circulating and coming across nowadays, not 45 years ago. These are very global phenomenons, and even if some are sour grapes frustrated P-ers, I doubt that the solution/explanation has to do with how these very few people, react.

    Photography can make a difference, but just like anything else, not more, not less, and less obviously than in days long gone. And i believe the person behind the camera counts as much as the photos. Just careering won’t help you make a difference. IMO.

  • So Akaky what’s the point of ridiculing someones fight?
    Make no sense right.. Let me take hypothetically the Israeli side (and why not? They could be 100% right after all… So what if hypothetically the whole Africa will turn against that small nation, right? Then according to you Akaky the Israeli army or any army shouldn’t resist to the bigger gun , right? Therefore they deserve to die?
    If people thought like u Akaky then would all be under Hitlers command or even worst.. We would still be under the roman empire…no Akaky no matter how small u feel u are.. If u feel u need to defend yourself you should go for it.. Regardless if u die.. And if u die that doesn’t mean you “deserved it”..

    On a more positive note , there alternatives to guns and bombs..
    Think Gandhi.. That great Indian leader that he never opposed “defense” but he could win anyone anytime without any guns, bombs, rockets, suicide missions or F-16s..
    Gandhi was brilliant.. And he proved it.. But we still rely on weapons for justice

  • Sorry, Imants, I did not see you had pretty much answered along my own line of thought.

  • These photo essays are becoming like talk show news………..an opinion about the news not the news.

  • Gandhi needs to be taken off his piedestal. I used to think he was the greatest thing that happened last century, but if you really study how Indian independance was won, for the sake of his own principles, for a non-violent guys, his struggle caused a lot of violence. It can also be argued that his self-righteousness may have delayed that independance. He was a great man, but like all great men, his flaws could really cause a lot of hurt to his own people.

    this is the guy who also thought the best resistance the jews and others deported under the nazis could offer, is to accept their fate. I am not sure he thought they should sing and dance in unisson, 6 million of them, to the gaz chambers and burial grounds.

  • Herve , first you shoot my boy Nietzsche pointblank , now throwing knives to Gandhi..
    But I like your attitude :
    “death to all idols”..
    That’s actually Nietzsche style:)
    Thank you:))))

  • Panos dip yourself in gold paint and you will have a new idol

  • They say Jesus didn’t defend himself either.. But I wasn’t there to confirm ;)

  • Imants I can’t .. Gold dipping would ruin my massive chip that is implanted on my shoulder by Kodak..
    U kiddin?

  • Damn Imants I love the dinosaur archive..
    All the big ones in one page.. ;)
    Nice T-shirt material

  • Or add a million “zeros” 00000000 behind me, make the zeros follow me and yes , Idol I am:)

  • Nietzsche, I can’t speak too much actually I know vaguely his philosophy, just the sentence I reacted to, last week.

    Actually, lately I have been interested a lot by Michel Onfray’s take on the history of philosophy (which he taught as a “counter-history of philosophy” course in his now famed Free University of Caen courses (it was free and anyone could come), and for whom Nietzsche is a favorite thinker. Too bad, it’s all in french, can’t share much more with you, but he goes after the big names, with the knowlegde to back his raisonning. His last book takes apart Freud and psycho-analysis. Big fuss it is in France, that was one idol deemed untouchable.

  • Kids know that a good looking dinosaur beats any good looking war

  • Ok, Gandhi and photography. Cartier-Bresson. and Times have changed.

    It’s funny that the master of the decisive moment was “in town” the day Gandhi got shot and died, shot him before and after (nehru’s announcement, funeral), but was not near when the murder happened. No one finds this a problem, never heard anyone think: “yeah, sure…Some master of the decisive moment we have here!”.

    Yet, for anyone of you PJ, I bet you’d hear a mouthfull, maybe get fired, if you were to be working on the subject of a VIP and history-maker, there with him/her that day, yet missing the exact moment when history is being changed in front of one’s eyes.

    Or maybe not, maybe an out of focus, tilted, cooky iphone shot decisively taken at the most undecisive moment of that fateful day, will get you praises: “wow, you did it, Panos. never mind the assassination, that’s the shot I wanted and was afraid to ask for”… :-)))

  • I keep coming back here to see what is going on and check out the photography that David is showcasing and I keep being reminded of why Patricia and others have left. It is truly a more productive use of energy to just make images and let the rest talk whatever nonsense helps them sleep at night.

  • talk about sour grapes!

  • Damn I still haven’t washed that “I’M LEAVING BURN” t-shirt..
    Pete thanks for reminding me.. and yes indeed Patricia left, kept her word and did it.. Are u gonna do it? Or just promises, promises???

  • I just hit the wrong button and everything I wrote went down the memory hole and I am too tired now to go back and try to do it again. Manana, companeros, manana.

  • Pete, go here:


    Lots of photography and I spraypainted the colors on the pictures myself! Panos doesnt approve, but I think the babe in the showgirl costume looks better with the paint, but that’s just my opinion.

  • Akakyevich .. Stick with colors Vs b&w..
    Seriously I think I approve

  • Ok, Mike, Akaky and that filthy troll from LA.. Please stop teasing Pete..
    He just having a bad day.. Ok, enough.. Show some mercy..

  • LA troll: “I’m NOT leaving burn
    LA troll IRL: ok, I said shut up, will you?

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