Born in Jordan in 1975, Tanya Habjouqa was educated as an anthropologist in the United States, receiving her masters in Global Media and Middle East Politics from the Univeristy of London, School of Oriental and Africans Studies ( SOAS ).
A founding member of Rawiya, an all female Middle East based photo collective, she had worked on the front lines in Iraq, Lebanon, Darfur and Gaza. Habjouqa is a recipient of the Magnum Foundation 2013 Emergency Fund and in 2014 won a World Press Award in “Daily Life Stories” 2nd Prize for her project Occupied Pleasures from World Press Photo. The acclaimed monograph by the same name, was heralded by TIME magazine and the Smithsonian as one of the best photo books of 2015.
By finding intimate access to people’s daily lives, Habjouqa is able to reveal the everyday politics of pleasure,. She feels that by documenting how Palestinian “reimagine” their reality, and by representing her subjects with individual agency and life stories, she can do more to remind Israelis of their humanity than with anything else.
Reflecting the origins for the resulting Occupied Pleasures series Hobjouqua says: I sought the juxtaposition of the everyday politics and absurdity. Insipiration for this project came while in the Gaza Strip in 2009, during an interview with a man who refused to be deprived of his right to love, sneaking his Jordanian bride through the tunnels from Egypt. He told me, It was like a Bollywood film, her standing there and trembling, covered in earth…I covered her with kisses.
Tanya Habjouqa is known for gaining unique access to sensitive gender, social and human rights stories in the Middle East. She has exhibited in more than 100 venues including MFA in Boston, and NMWA. Her work is in various public collections including MFA, Boston, Institute du Monde Arab and Carnegie Museum of Art.
In 2017, ILEX presented the series Sacred Space Oddity: the Un/Holy Land ( 2016- 2017), which premiered at that year’s Unseen (Amsterdam). The series made on the West Bank in Palestine and Israel, explores the overlapping religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam and the border between the sacred and insane