Time and its passage seems to be in the air lately so I recently re-visited a work by Taysir Batniji titled “Transit” from 2004. The work was originally shown at the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam from November 7, 2004 – January 9, 2005.
Tackling the issues of borders, Batniji presents a video slideshow in “Transit” comprising stills taken clandestinely at border passages between Egypt and Gaza. Photographs of people waiting are alternated with black screens, “metaphors for emptiness and the passing of time, reflecting the difficult and often impossible conditions of mobility for today’s Palestinians.” The only sound is that of the projector’s mechanical advance.
From the Witte de With website:
For the last few years, most especially since the second Intifada broke out in 2001, the Rafah border has been the only way for people from the Gaza Strip to leave or enter the region. People travel via Cairo airport, men traveling alone separated from the other travelers, and under heightened Egyptian guard. All the travelers encounter each other in an open-air transit zone in Rafah, waiting for the moment when the Israelis will permit them transit to Gaza. This wait can last from a day to several weeks. In 2004 Taysir Batniji photographed his journey to the Gaza Strip. The work Transit presents these images and reflects on the extremely difficult conditions under which Palestinians must travel.
Posted by Lauren Pearson. Image credit: Transit (2004), Taysir Batniji, still images from video.