Rachel Boyd discusses the photography series ‘Misplaced’ created by film-maker and visual artist, Miriam Chefrad.
Miriam Chefrad’s visuals reflect how segregation can radicalise space into politicised territories. Pylons, signage and fragments of architecture delineate environments which were once organic, poetic homelands. Chefrad neutralises pictorial space by rendering her photography absent of people, but implicated with narrative:
Some photographs are taken within the Hebron military buffer zone; a former bustling street of Palestinian shops – now an empty ghost town and shell of what once was. Jordan street is a crowded main street in the centre of Amman, completely populated by the generations of Palestinian refugees displaced in the 1948 war. Ask any child on this street where he is from and he will name the Palestinian town of his ancestors’ origin.
To document a life in exile, you first have to refer to the places from which people have been refused. In spite of the sincerity behind any of these landmarks, all of her images are coloured by fleeting memory: a fear that future generations may be forced to forget where they came from. Essentially, they are portraits of landscapes. This is a contradiction of sorts, considering the intimacy her pictures project upon ruins and remnants; most frequently eyed between the pages of a newspaper, or featured in panorama in televised news. But landscapes have a habit with conversing with the impersonal, the political.
Blue is a prevalent colour within these photographs. Historically, it is the most precious colour in all the world; sourced from byzantine trade in the form of lapis lazuli. Yet where photography is concerned, we are confronted with a quotidian blue: the blue of our shared skies. Would our aesthetic appreciation of blue – moreover, of the hope these blue skies evoke – be the same if it weren’t for our ancestors in the middle east?
We share a sky in the same sense that our understanding of home is mutual. On the surface, any culture can seem disparate to our own. In seeing Palestine in situations stripped of people, Chefrad refocuses our attention on a narrative without political or media-influenced presence. Instead, these photographs represent an idyll of a community intent on preserving its own identity.
Miriam Chefrad was born in Yorkshire, studied at the Glasgow School of Art and makes work throughout Europe and the Middle East. Chefrad’s feature length film work ‘Fragments’ will be exhibited at the upcoming RSA New Contemporaries exhibition. Her past exhibitions include Futureproof 15 and Dublin Culture Night.
Rachel Boyd studies History of Art at the University of Glasgow as well as writing for Glasgow City Arts. Working predominantly as a reviewer, she has also delivered pieces for The Glasgow School of Art and Tramway.