TIME photo essay

Broken Hopes in the West Bank

Twenty years after the 1993 Oslo Accords, photographer Cédric Gerbehaye explores the reality facing those living under the consequences of a failed peace process in the Middle East with an interactive, multimedia documentary.

When we started Broken Hopes, Oslo’s Legacy in May 2013, many people — especially those living in the West Bank — were extremely pessimistic about attempts to revive negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians. The consensus seemed to be that, for all the fanfare they had generated, the 1993 Oslo Accords were not merely a failure, but a catastrophe. Twenty years after Arafat and Rabin met at the White House, we wanted to discover what (if anything) remained of the hopes that their historic handshake had generated.

But we didn’t want this project to be just another political analysis. Instead, we wanted to give voice to those who feel they have been forgotten in the midst of the peace process. This is why our travels took us from south to north of the West Bank, stopping along the way to meet people living in Area C — under full Israeli control. It is there, after all, that one can really begin to understand the issues at stake in the negotiations, and grasp the everyday consequences of the interrupted peace process.

Photography has an evocative strength, of course, but as a method of communication it also has its limits, which is why we chose to add other media and modes of expression to the project. Video, for example, provides for a deeper engagement, bringing the viewer inside the reality. The use of sound, meanwhile, adds yet another layer of perception. Mapping, which illustrates the division and fragmentation of the territory, also acts in this regard as a narrative element.

With an interactive online platform, people can “look through a window” or “drive” from one situation to another, gaining (we hope) both perception and understanding of the reality facing those living in these areas today.

Cédric Gerbehaye is a Belgian documentary photographer and a member of Agence VU.

Broken Hopes, Oslo’s Legacy is a new web documentary produced by Gerbehaye and journalist Eve Sabbagh.

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