By Malak Hasan
RAMALLAH, May 3, 2012 (WAFA) – On a fair day, a group of people with nothing in common but a camera and a wild imagination wandered the streets of Ramallah and Jerusalem to capture flying moments in the busy streets for the first Palestine Photo Marathon 2012.
The Palestine Photo Marathon, which took place on Tuesday, was organized by the Danish House in Palestine (DHIP) in cooperation with the Palestinian Art Court – al-Hoash. It was inspired by the Copenhagen Photo Marathon, which has been held annually since 1989 and funded by the International Media Support.
DHIP director Nathalie Khankan said that they were particularly inspired by the Cairo photo marathon, which is considered the first photo marathon ever held in the Middle East.
“We, at DHIP, aimed to create an event that would be inspiring and would create a community of photography lovers and bring them all together on one day,” said Khankan.
She said that they sought to engage the Gaza Strip in this event but it was complicated due to the critical situation in the area.
The event was about competing to visually interpret several themes in a 6-hour or 12-hour marathon and return to the starting point at time to hand in the best photos which best reflect the themes.
The participants were handed six themes for the six-hour marathon and 12 themes for the 12-hour marathon and were asked to creatively interpret these themes within a time limit.
Faiq Habash, a Palestinian student and amateur photographer, said “the themes we had to work with were very ambiguous. I had to think really hard because I was supposed to reflect an idea, something I never tried before.”
Both amateurs and professionals found it rather incredible to roam the streets of Ramallah and capture small details about Palestinian daily life without hesitation or fear from people reaction.
Isra Abed al-Wahab, a photography enthusiast, said “People were very supportive in the streets. They tended to ask many questions about what I was doing, however they were very cooperative.”
Maher Khatib, one of the marathon’s organizers, said that he was excited to see how thrilled the people were about this event.
He said, “When the people in the streets knew that those photographers were Palestinians who are participating in a photography race, they were very delighted to be part of it.”
Palestinian poet and playwright Dalia Taha and stand-up comedian and actor Manal Farid Awad helped in developing the 2012 themes in corporation with DHIP.
“The themes were very challenging and vague,” said Emile Saba, another amateur, “but it was definitely an extremely entertaining and fun event.”
Jury member, Yazan Khalili, a distinguished photographer and architect, said that this event allowed photographers to look attentively at the details of the Palestinian environment and engage with it in a creative way.
DHIP promised that this will only be the beginning for more events that engages Palestinians with their nature and surroundings.
Khankan insisted that while Palestine is probably one of the most photographed countries in the world, it is mostly photographed by foreigners and that’s the reason behind such event; to see how Palestine is seen through the eyes of its own people.