Sepia Prints (2014 - Present)
Portraits of Denial & Desire Sepia

Palestinian Wedding. Digital Print. Sepia.
80 x 60 and 110 x 80 inches
John Halaka © 2015

Palestinian Wedding in Lebanon.

The groom for this traditional Palestinian wedding was born and lives in Borj El Barajneh Refugee camp in Beirut and the bride was born and raised at Nahr El Bared Refugee camp, near Tripoli, Lebanon.   Their young couple’s public ceremony was a deliberate act of cultural survival, political resistance and a celebration of the perseverance of Palestinian refugees.  For indigenous people living in the aftermath of physical or cultural genocide, survival and resistance are inseparable experiences.

The Native American scholar Gerald Vizenor coined the term "survivance" to describe the creative resilience of the indigenous peoples of the Americas against cultural and physical extermination. The concept of survivance combines the active processes of "survival" and "resistance," and applies equally to the struggles of the Palestinians.  Survivance creatively employs memories, personal and communal stories, as well as tales of ancient customs and evolving traditions, to convey a living culture that refuses to die and disappear.   Survivance is the desire and will of a people who reject being swept away, and is an active, indigenous presence against political, physical and psychological absence, whether that absence is from their homeland, from the international discourse on human rights or an internal absence caused by the acceptance of defeat.   Survivance highlights the process of active survival shaped by creative and moral resistance to oppression, institutional manipulation, neglect and dehumanization.  Survivance underlines the will of the individual while underscoring the power of the collective.

The art and literature of survivance are antidotes to forgetting.  They help to insure that experiences are preserved and that current and future generations are well informed.