© Guy Martin

I was just reading Alec Soth's book From Here To There: Alec Soth's America. In it, we are treated to his thoughts on the importance of titles for photography projects. I was immediately reminded of a project by Guy Martin titled In Ramallah I Can Breath. To me, this a title that is memorable and entices, but is not so abstract that there is no hint of the story. It is beautifully simple and poetic.
Martin describes In Ramallah I Can Breath like this:
Ramallah, the de-facto capital of the Occupied Palestinian West Bank, is home to a growing, educated and secular youth. After years of economic stagnation, Israeli military incursions and poor infrastructure, this once occupied city is coming back to life.
Ramallah's youthful population, that were too young or innocent to get involved in the iconic martyr's funerals, stone throwing or call to arms at the beginning of the new millennium, are now coming of age in a culture surrounded by Americana, tourism and relaxed western attitudes to a myriad of Islamic sins; alcohol, sex and relationships.

Mona Ennab, a 24 year old Muslim woman and a Ramallah local, is one of those taking advantage of this city's new freedoms. She has become one of the famous faces on the West Bank's growing street-car racing scene, that stretches across the battle scarred towns of Jenin, Nablus and Hebron. Here she competes against macho Palestinian men and trains in the gaze of Israeli military watchtowers.
The project focuses on Mona's daily life as she tries to live somewhere on the bridge between the Palestinian culture she and her family respects, and the modern, secular lifestyle she so loves and desires.

Having seen other pieces on Mona Ennab, what sets Martin's project apart is the broader context that he has shown. We see more of the life of Ennab than we do with other content I've seen about her, and it is the context that makes her story so interesting.

That again reminds me of Soth who in the same book writes, " While they (photographs) can't tell stories, they are brilliant at suggesting stories. ...You can't provide context in 1/500 of a second."
I am wary of disagreeing to eagerly with Mr. Soth, but I would suggest you can provide context with images, but to varying degrees, and at times more successfully than others.
© Guy Martin

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