The Freedom Theatre’s most recent photography exhibitions, Childhood and Shadow, were displayed at The Freedom Theatre and the Arab-American University close to Jenin at the end of last year and the beginning of this year. More than 1600 people came to see the exhibitions, including students, faculty members, artists and friends of The Freedom Theatre. The photos moved many spectators, particularly in how they told stories of dreams and perceptions of a life away from the noise and unpredictability of everyday reality under occupation. While some saw each photos as a dream, others believed that the pictures showed reality from the photographer’s view. In the words of one spectator: “Each picture is a life.”
17 students, all young adults from the Jenin area, spent five months studying light, composition, camera settings, frames and storytelling through photography, before choosing the themes of the exhibitions and preparing the photos.
“In the training we have focused a lot on the stories inside photos”, says Mohammed Moawia, multimedia coordinator at The Freedom Theatre. “We have discussed how the students can feel the photo before they take it. We worked on enabling the students to open their minds to start thinking about photography as a powerful tool that they can use to tell the stories that they want to tell.”
Shadow and Childhood pay tribute to the efforts of The Freedom Theatre to train younger generations in photography as an art form. Baraa Sharqawi, who started out as a student at The Freedom Theatre and advanced to train others, said that through her work as a photographer she can speak in the language of pictures. The pictures give her a voice and she thinks of her mind as a live camera that is constantly taking pictures. “It’s not just about having an eye for photography, it’s learning how to combine technical skills with creativity to take artistic images that make an impression. In this way photography helps people to see the wider horizon and look at life from a variety of different angles.”