Photography in Vanishing Landscape: An Interview with Yazan Khalili

by Nayrouz Abu Hatoum, York University

A landscape is not on the verge of collapse, unless a vanishing landscape is a collapsing one. I came to this realization during my fieldwork in Palestine (2012), when I spent a year travelling between different cities and landscapes. I was trying to capture the visual presence and absence of the separation wall in Palestine and how The Wall’s presence and absence was mirrored in Israeli national discourse. I interviewed several Palestinian and Israeli photographers and artists, but was particularly struck by the photographic work of Palestinian artist Yazan Khalili. In Landscape of Darkness (2010) and On Love and Other Landscapes (2011) we see reflections on love, memory, pain and vanishing landscapes, which bring to the surface Khalili’s hesitation of capturing The Wall in photographic frames. His hesitation is coming from a place of resisting The Wall through shifting Palestinians’ gaze onward towards themselves, in a way that removes the catastrophe from their self-representation.