Occupied Palestinian Territories, West Bank, August 2013. After grueling traffic at the Qalandia checkpoint, a young man enjoys a cigarette in his car as traffic finally clears on the last evening of Ramadan. A sheep, this year's sacrificial lamb for Eid, fills the entire passenger seat. Tanya Habjouqa/NOOR from the series «Occupied Pleasures» 2013.

Tanya Habjouqa: Birds Unaccustomed to Gravity + Picture of the Year: Exhibition & Seminar

 
Award-winning photographer, filmmaker and anthropologist Tanja Habjouqa (Jordan/US) opens Fotografihuset’s 2024 programme with a joint exhibition and seminar organised in collaboration with Preus Museum and OsloMet, based on her ongoing work from Palestine; Birds Unaccustomed to Gravity.
 
Alongside Habjouqa’s outdoor exhibition, the Project Space will screen all winning entries to Årets Bilde 2023 (Picture of the Year); the Press Photographers’ Club’s annual prize for the best in Norwegian photo and video journalism.  
 
Having spent 13 years in East Jerusalem with a husband and two Palestinian children, Tanya Habjouqa’s photographic eye has much in common with the Palestinian proverb “A distress makes you laugh, and a distress makes you cry,”  which was recited in her book “Occupied Pleasures”, which TIME Magazine mentioned as one of the best photo books in 2015.
 
With her unique perspective, she has mapped the physical and psychological boundaries that have defined Palestinian life during the occupation and up until the watershed on October 7. last year, when Gaza was hermetically closed to outside journalists. Habjouqa’s first solo exhibition in Norway, which is titled “Birds Unaccustomed to Gravity”, also includes photos taken on the West Bank in late November 2023 and includes excerpts from both “Occupied Pleasures” and the ongoing series “Birds Unaccustomed to Gravity”.  Both series trace the losses and victories that define Palestinian life; shattering confrontations, microscopic liberations, and the forging, holding, and remembering of space. She explores the tensions within and around landscapes and characters etched into the lives of the land’s occupied and occupying populations.
 

In connection with the opening weekend, Fotografihuset – in collaboration with Preus museum and OsloMet – organise the seminar “Images from Gaza: The Politics of Representation”.

In addition to contributions from Tanya Habjouqa and philosopher Arne Johan Vetlesen, there will be a dialogue between these two and, among others, political scientist Sylo Taraku; head of the research group MEKK (Media in War and Conflict) at OsloMet Kristin Skare Orgeret; social anthropologist, researcher, journalist, editor and author Anne Hege Simonsen; head of the Palestine Committee Line Khateeb and photo editor in the paper VG Espen Rasmussen.

March 13 – SEMINAR in collaboration with Preus Museum and OsloMet: «Images from Gaza: The Politics of Representation»,  17–19.30 in OsloMet’s auditorium Athene 1, Pilestredet 46, Clara Holst hus. Free entry.
 
EXHIBITION OPENING in collaboration with Preus Museum: Birds Unaccustomed to Gravity Årets Bilde, 16 March, at 15.00 at Fotografihuset at Sukkerbiten.
 
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Born in Jordan and raised between Texas and the Middle East, award-winning journalist, artist, filmmaker and anthropologist Tanya Habjouqa (b. 1975) has become a leading advocate for innovation in photojournalism and documentary practice. With a mordant sense of irony fused with unstinting, forensic interrogations of the implications of geopolitical conflict on human lives, Habjouqa weaves narratives infused with folklore and dark humor. Trained in anthropology and journalism, with an MA in Global Media and emphasis on Middle Eastern politics, her work focuses on identity politics, occupation, dispossession, human rights and subcultures of the Levant.
 
She is the co-founder of Rawiya, the first female photography collective from the Middle East, and is a mentor in the Arab Documentary Program, providing marginalized narratives and narrative-creators with the space and skills to tell their stories. Her work is in the collections of the MFA Boston, the Institut du Monde Arab, and the Carnegie Museum of Art. She is a Nikon Europe Ambassador and advisor and teacher for the NOOR Foundation and the Nikon NOOR academy. Habjouqa is represented by the East Wing Gallery.

The Summer Show: Helge Skodvin + Knut Egil Wang + Uncertain States Scandinavia

HARE. Lepus timidus. Class: Mammalia. Order: Lagomorpha. Family: Leporidae. 2019-08-05. Vuddu, Levanger, Trøndelag. 72 m.a.s.l. From “Observations of new Norwegian fauna in the years 2014 – 2022” © Helge Skodvin.

The Summer Show: Helge Skodvin + Knut Egil Wang + Uncertain States Scandinavia

Exhibition opening Thursday 6 June at 18.00

The banality and wildness of small-town life is depicted through tuja hedges, gossip mirrors and new Norwegian garden fauna when two of the country’s most serious humorists in Norwegian photography exhibit together for the first time.

Over the course of eight years, Bergen photographer Helge Skodvin traveled around Norway and photographed the country’s new fauna in plastic, fiberglass, concrete and metals – an expedition that resulted in what he himself refers to as a zoological low-threshold offer. None of the animals in Skodvin’s “Observations of New Norwegian Fauna in the Years 2014–2022” are real, but all the pictures are. The motifs have been found, observed and recorded in their natural element, among village animals, garden spots, central discounts, terraced houses, driveways and flats.

The two-legged creatures that inhabit the country’s cities and towns have left the stage to the artificial animals they have chosen to decorate their surroundings with, which in their most daring way break with the otherwise razor-sharp fortress walls of tuja hedges and uniformed facades that adorn the 69 images in the series. The exhibition shows a selection of these, together with texts by both Skodvin himself and a specially written essay by Bjørn Hatterud.

At about the same time, Skodvin’s colleague Knut Egil Wang traveled to the town of Nykøbing Mors in Denmark, where the images in the series “Searching for Jante” were photographed. Janteloven was described for the first time in the novel “En flyktning krysser sitt spor” (1933) by the Danish-Norwegian author Aksel Sandemose. In the novel, Jante is a small town where the Jante Law is an expression of people’s ability to keep both each other and themselves down. The physical model for Sandemose’s Jante is precisely the town of Nykøbing Mors. Wang wanted to get to the bottom of the mystery of the Janteloven, and find out if it can be captured on film, and not least if it is still capable of saying something about who we Scandinavians are.

Like Skodvin, Wang has not staged any of the images in the series, and the omnipresent absurdity permeates both universes. Both photo series were published in 2023 in two different photo books by the same publisher (Journal). At the exhibition opening, both artists will be present and there will be an artist talk about each of the projects. For the second year in a row, Uncertain States Scandinavia (USSC) has also been invited to create a special edition of their newspaper, this time with nine contemporary photographers who engage in dialogue with Skodvin and Wang’s work. In addition, USSC will take over the project space with two video installations, while the newspaper will be distributed free of charge to all visitors to Sukkerbiten from a specially built newsstand.

Many thanks to Fritt Ord and Oslo municipality for their support of Fotografihuset’s exhibition program 2024.

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