Hello Dear Fadwa Rouhana. Thank you for giving us the chance to Interview with you. Our
first question is how the “Covid-19” affects your art and what is your expectation for the
year ahead of us?

Despite its painful effects on the whole world, I think that “Covid19” has given us the chance to reconnect with our souls and with mother nature.
Maybe in the chaos of the modern world we were in need for this solitude, this tranquility, this silence that the Covid19 situation had imposed. To some extent I believe that this silence was the voice of nature, a call for us all to scrutinize our actions in our planet and how it’s affecting our being in this universe
 For me as a photographer who’s lens was always focused on people, either on the streets or indoors, I found myself following this call through the mountains and the deserts of my homeland, where the trees became the creatures with whom my lens was trying to make a dialogue and the surface of land became the portrait that I was trying to capture.
The long time that we had to spend at home, was also a good opportunity for me to develop my post processing skills, I usually rely more on camera settings rather than on Photoshop effects, but having large stock of photos made me try to discover new creative ways to present them.
Generally I spend lot of time revisiting my photos, contemplating each photo until I am able to envision its reflection on me, or vice versa to reflect my own vision inside it. The continues quarantines allowed more time for such practices and it probably  gave more meaning for my photography ,from my very own perspective ,  since  really I feel that the Covid19  was a strong manifestation of the main concept of my artworks, the essence of my photography : our fragile passage in time.
I wish this year we will see the end of the Covid era with maybe some gained wisdom, for me personally am looking forward for my participation in some upcoming art and photography exhibition in Palestine and Europe.
I have new ideas and concepts that am trying to develop but things are still unpredictable and confusing, and even though it seems as if social distancing will be a long term human practice, I wish my lens will soon find its way to its main passion: The crowds.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what drove you to choose art as a career?

In fact I don’t practice art as a career , Photography is rather a tool that helps me contain the traumatic and complex reality of my homeland and I may repeat here my statement about my photographic experience :
Since a young age the camera became my everlasting companion the third eye that helped me apprehend my complex reality, in a region that is constantly in turmoil. With the time you realize that the human eye is too narrow to contain the overwhelming nature of life. Sometimes I feel that my whole photographic experience is just an echo to a deep urge to visualize my inherent trauma as a woman and as Palestinian.
But I have to add that my background as an industrial engineer and my presence in labor intensive industries made me more conscious and curious about the whole human experience and it always evoked feelings and confused emotions, estrangement and alienation from my work, from my path in life and career, paradoxes that I always had the need to express in different terms, writing or photography.
In orders to enhance my photography skills I had a break from work and stayed few months in Florence, where I had a short course of photography for beginners. I had also graduated from a 1 year program in Phototherapy which is about the use of photography as a therapeutic tool in psychological treatment. Phototherapy is not at all about the techniques of taking photos; however it gives a very interesting and deep perspective on the power of the camera to delve into the human soul and to create images that can touch the innermost feelings and thoughts of the photographer, the persons inside the photo and the spectator. For me the program had shed light on the narcissistic side of the photographer, or in my case, on how I have been using the lens as a reflection or a mirror of my inner self.
With the time I am finding myself less involved in my main career and engaged more with my art. The more I think about it I feel that for me photography is a way of life.

What is the biggest challenge of being an artist?

In the world of today we all have the luxury of seeing art online; indeed watching a painting or a sculpture on the screen can never feel the same like standing in front of its grandeur presence in a gallery or a museum. However the internet had provided us with endless pages and platforms of fine arts from different eras and different disciplines. This profuse exposure to all kinds of arts on the web has in fact violated the human aesthetic sense. Driven by the speed of the modern technology we are almost tamed to view things fast, to pass by, with not enough attention to aesthetic details.
The social media plays large role in defining and reshaping the human taste. The artist may find himself submitting his art to dominating trends in terms of mediums, visual and concepts, that are not very much in harmony with his very own senses, or his artistic vision and instincts, creating pieces of art that can be artificial, commercial or monotonous
I believe that the biggest challenge for every artist is present artworks that can bring an added value and make a difference to the viewer. It’s to find his/her place in the overcrowded chaos of the virtual and non-virtual world, and to make his/her voice heard.

Can you tell our readers a little about your “BEYOND THE VISIBLE” series? How did you come up with the idea?

My series “Beyond the visible” was developed during my stay in Bethlehem, my theme “Passengers in time” which is a subcategory, was awarded the Golden medal in fine art-conceptual photography by ND awards 2019
The series was inspired by the pilgrims of Bethlehem and most of the photos were taken between the years 2018-2019, before the spread of the Covid19 and before the social distancing. The endless queues of people coming from every corner on this earth carrying their pains and hopes to find salvation in this city, made me wonder about the shared or the collective human memory that attracts all those groups from different backgrounds and ethnicities to gather here.
 I started taking documentary photos,  but I always had the feeling that am unable to reflect  the feelings that the scenes were evoking inside me , the wandering eyes of the pilgrims, their search ,their  anticipation, their fears and hopes , their hidden yearnings   ,their  visible and obscure emotions towards the place and  their solemnity and reverence in front of the poignant presence of its history.
It’s the puzzle of this human mosaic that my direct documentary photos could never deliver. and I found myself engaged in continues experimental efforts  with  my camera until I was able to create a multi layered effect,  that for me reflects the multi layered nature of the human soul, our visible mien and the very deep invisible worlds behind it,  or maybe the collective human unconscious that I felt was floating across those scenes.

You have been living in Bethlehem. How did your stay over there affected you and your art?

I have been living in Bethlehem for the past 6 years, a city with an ancient history and a devastating present. Locked behind a separation wall, astonishing is the fact that the city is still able to maintain its attraction for pilgrims, and its universal position as an epicenter of salvation.
Indeed the reality here invokes documentation without any esthetic additions from the photographer, the hardships of life in this imprisoned city were a call for me to make my testimony. The truth that must be seen is what I always try to present in my street theme, while the overwhelming contradiction between the flying dreams of  the city’s tourists  and the locked dreams of its own people made me search for more creative ways and venture into non common photography techniques to present my vision , I think that contrary to my very straight forward documentary work I was able to develop new themes with some touch of surrealism  , and mystery which I always aim to evoke in my art , maybe because I am haunted with existential questions for which life never provides any answers.

What are your long-term goals?

My main goal is to remain loyal to my passion
Sometimes I feel unconfident towards the title I am given as an artist; I feel there is big responsibility behind it.
There is still a lot for me to learn and am keeping my efforts and my dreams open for new discoveries in my photographic journey.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

I think we all keep changing with the time , our hopes , our dreams , our way of thinking and our preferences, I never regret any of my choices , I appreciate my life experience , but very often I feel that I was blind to my creative side. I think we all need to make efforts to learn more about ourselves, about our inner worlds as much as we keep learning about the external world.

Anything else you would like to mention or add for the readers?

Explore your passion and nurture it.
Many thanks to Marvelous art gallery for giving me this opportunity to share my thoughts and my experience.