“I am Al Thoury / Silwan,” a part of the “Image and Identity” Arts Advocacy project I started in 2011, opened Wednesday, July 11th at Grassroots Jerusalem to over 100 Jerusalemites. The project teaches youth how to creatively articulate local culture, history, identity and space using images.
The afternoon began with the “I am Al Thoury / Silwan” exhibition, a result of a series of photography workshops led by Ahed Izhiman and the “Image and Identity” Arts Advocacy project. Over seventy people attended the exhibition where the students’ photographs and a set of collaborative artistic portraits they created were displayed.
The students’ photographs detail daily life in Al Thoury / Silwan and the difficulties their community faces due to the neglect of the Jerusalem Municipality. Several of the pictures document the massive amounts of trash, unpaved roads and raw sewage that floods their neighborhood.
The exhibition was also the premier of a short film about the human rights violations that students in Al Thoury face and how they are using artistic expression to advocate for change. In the short movie students spoke about how their “Jewish neighbors – who live directly next to them – receive full services and live in much better conditions” and how they could use a video camera to show the world the “unjust difference between neighborhoods, even though they are right next to each other” and pay the same taxes.