La La Lil Jidar: 20 Years Behind the Apartheid Wall

Exhibition opening:
Friday, December 1
10:00am – 8:00pm

Aisha Mershani’s photography documents nearly 20 years of the Israeli Apartheid Wall, and more importantly, this body of work moves numerous stories direct from Palestine to Philadelphia.

Mershani most recently returned to the Occupied West Bank in summer 2022, finding countless people that she photographed in 2004/2005. By photographing people again, Mershani shows a timeline of the ‘then and now’ behind the Wall through these individual stories. The act of viewing has proven to elicit an emotional response; therefore, this project uses photography, as well as first hand testimonies that can be accessed through QR codes. The audio compliments the image, leading the viewer/listener to a website that mirrors the gallery show.

Aisha Mershani is working in alignment with the Philly Palestine Coalition, a local solidarity coalition comprising numerous organizations in the Philly area, to activate the gallery space. A group of artists and activists have come together to form the La La Lil Jidar Collective, who hold the intention to use arts and culture for the public to see how this global fight is deeply integral and tied to the local fights. The Collective believes that, with knowledge, they are able to shift the mainstream narrative on Palestine, while simultaneously building local community struggles through solidarity against all forms of violence.

The intent of this exhibit is to educate, while simultaneously building a broader community using the gallery space. From December 1st through January 19th, the collective will host a series of events at Studio 34, which will include numerous organizations, artists, and educators to draw direct connections between Philly and Palestine. This multimedia experience will engage audiences towards the realities on the ground through this artistic expression.

Artist Statement

My photography focuses on visually exposing the realities on the ground in Palestine, reframing the source of violence. This body of work spans nearly 20 years as a collection of photographs highlighting the ongoing violence of Israeli colonial expansion by way of the Apartheid Wall.

For me, it is vital to view Palestine/Israel beyond US mainstream news framing, but through the people directly affected by the violence of the Wall. The aim of 20 years of the Apartheid Wall is to bring the voice and faces of the people of Palestine to Philadelphia. Educating U.S. audiences about what life is like behind the Wall.

No individual can do this work alone, so although this body of work is solely my photography, this project is only possible through a collaborative model from Palestine to Philadelphia. In Palestine numerous people contributed to finding those that were photographed in 2004 and 2005. Each person not only consented to their photo and testimony being used for this project, they were excited to be able to move their truths beyond borders. La La Lil Jidar became a collective of activists and artists in Philadelphia who used this material for activist purposes. As a team of artists and activists, we intend to build awareness around the truths of Palestine for a mainstream audience, and to essentially reframe the narrative.