Fathers #18 and Fathers #27 is part of a series of photographs and videos made in recent years in Gaza. Batniji addresses the representation of the over-identified human and physical space with the geographical and political situation in the region. He distinguishes himself from the fictions that have been previously created in the Middle East and offers a quieter and more retained vision of the of the intertwining tensions and oppositions in this area.
Fathers offers an incomplete inventory of portraits that we often see framed and hanging on the walls of cafes, stalls, shops, workshops and other workplaces in Gaza and the Middle East. Often old and yellowed, sometimes dusty and slanted, these portraits rarely have links to the current owner and they relate instead to the person who founded the place and who left long ago. Since these places are overloaded with symbols and signs of presence (s) and disorder (s) but devoid of human inhabitants, or their owners, they become a particular paradigm of some sort of “still life”. This kind of places seem full (of products, objects, memories and signs of life) and empty at the same time. By overlooking different temporalities, memory and regards, or by being petrified, like ruins after a disaster that nobody will ever know, they belong to the present and to the past. The power of these images lies in what they hold as much as in what they reveal.