Landing:

“Landing” is a collaborative look at the purposeful escape that skateboarding provides to a handful of Palestinian skaters, myself included. This purposeful escape is a radical form of resistance to a headspace of violence, situated in the layers of Israeli domination in Palestine. Woven throughout are tales of my own family’s experience of displacement, diaspora, and partial return. When I moved back to Palestine in 2014, after living in the US for nineteen years, I brought my skateboard because I knew I would be a stranger. I needed the kid in me to remind myself that all is well while I tried to find home.

Skating leads us into a parallel world, where we can participate in our surroundings. This participation is an interpretive dance with the built environment; a tool to assemble a community; and most importantly, a centering on the imagination. This project serves as a reminder for this pocket of freedom as we all try to find our landing.

Throughout the project are also photos made by the core group of skaters, taken on disposable cameras. I simply asked them to photograph the world around them. Below is a small sample of the work.


*2020-ongoing*


(click on photos to read the captions)

                 
I met Aram & Adham in 2015, when they were 16 years old. They were the first skaters in Palestine and remain gatekeepers to the small, but intimate skate scene.
“We were forced to have this Palestinian trauma you get me. It’s passed down and we don’t know it, until one day, we open our eyes into this world and it is like...here is your reality. I hate it.” - Adham
“Goofy Life” tattooed on Aram’s hands. Goofy is a stance in skateboarding, it is the equivalent to being left-handed.
A photo taken by Aram of his shoe rack in his apartment.
Zaina is a freshman in university. She started skating two years ago. “It makes me feel good.” - Zaina
My baba and I in 1996 during my first visit back to Palestine after we moved to the US two years prior.
The village my father’s family was ethnically cleansed from in 1948 was named Sarise. My baba never grew up there, instead, a few miles away in Qalandia refugee camp. To compensate he named everything he could after a place he never knew: his license plate, his wifi password, his home, & his daughter.
I went to Sheikh Jarrah because I feel like I would have wished to go to save Sarise 73 years ago. Today’s Nakba is being done under a calibrated, bureaucratic, and violent 21st-century apartheid regime.
Mama was never dispossessed like the others. However, my Jiddo’s politics displaced her. This is well before she could even marinate in a single memory of Helhul: her home.
Growing up, Palestine was an idea, not a place. And the diaspora was the glue that shaped us. For me, I see how this glue weighed me down from even knowing myself and kept me stuck in a suburban standstill. It was not until I moved back to Palestine that I could try to shed the layers that weighed me down.   I still catch myself trying to wash away some of that glue.
The skaters' reenactment of an Israeli checkpoint.
Malak is 16 and she started skating a few years ago. “I fell in love, it was something new and I didn’t have to worry about someone having a certain image of me.” - Malak
Moe met Tala on instagram. They both had a crush on one another because of skateboarding, and then they started dating. Moe is from Nablus, in the West Bank. Tala is from Haifa, in 48 Palestine.   He tells me, “I would never do a long distance relationship. Instead, we call it a medium-distance relationship.” Every few weeks Moe sneaks in illegally to 48 Palestine/Israel to see Tala.
"When I am with Tala, I am home."
Moe’s instagram story that night, when we crossed back into the West Bank: “I’ll say it another time, fuck distance and everything difficult in this world that makes someone have to feel this way.”
Kareem loves skating, in a way that I remember so clearly growing up. He says, “I don’t hangout with more than 15 people in my life. Including you four skaters.”
I’ve never met Rajab. He lives in Gaza. “The old stuff you sent us got destroyed last year. It was in a building that got hit by an airstrike, we don’t have anything. You know how it is. Nothing comes in and nothing comes out without help. Please send anything habibi.” - Rajab
We sent them a suitcase of everything we could. “Its the simple shit we do for each other. No one got our backs but ourselves.” - Aram
My jaw has been clenched for weeks. I haven’t been able to skate in so long. It has been since the uprising began. The scary part is that I’ve been paralyzed. I haven’t even thought about it. Palestine is heavy. Floating in the weight of it all, I ask myself : Is there really such a place as an escape? A purposeful escape, nonetheless.
I stumbled upon Aram at the demonstrations.
A text exchange with Aram: “True. I do not want to fucking skate. We need to bring back our land. Then we can skate. Haha”

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