Landing is a collaborative project that looks at the purposeful escape skateboarding provides to a group of Palestinian skaters. As Maen Hammad—himself a skater—discovered, this escape offers a radical form of resistance in a landscape marred by the violent Israeli occupation of Palestine. The images in the project are made by Hammad, as well as by other Palestinian skaters he knew. He gave these skaters disposable cameras and asked them to photograph the world around them.
Woven through the images are depictions of the experiences that Hammad and his family underwent: as displaced people; as members of a diaspora; and upon his own partial return where he lives in Israel-occupied West Bank unable to return to his ancestral village. In 2014, Hammad, who had lived in the United States for 19 years, came back to Palestine. Anticipating a sense of estrangement, he carried his skateboard with him—it was a way of reassuring the child inside him that all was well, as he tried to regain a sense of home.
Hammad found that skating drew him into a parallel world in which he—and those he skated with—could participate in their surroundings. He sees it as an interpretive dance with a built environment, and as a tool to foster community. It is as an outlet for their imaginations to soar. The project serves as an archive for this pocket of freedom, as the skaters and their fellow Palestinians, all try to find their landing.
Maen Hammad (b. 1992, Jerusalem, Palestine) was raised in the American suburbs of Michigan, and is currently based between Ramallah, Palestine and Washington, D.C. Apart from being a photographer and filmmaker, Hammad works as a human-rights researcher and campaigner. His practice is driven by an impulse to explore the imaginative and to play around with the mundane.
Location: Backer and Rueb park