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Gaza, seen up close and from afar"The first time people see me, before they know me, they think I'm black," said a teenage Safa Batniji, who was born and raised in the U.S. to a Moroccan mother and a Palestinian father.Taysir Batniji's "Gaza to America, Home Away From Home" is the France-based Palestinian artist's largest solo show to date, and perhaps the biggest surprise in the "America Great Again!" section of this year's Rencontres de la photographie in Arles.The photos for "Watchtowers," 2008, were taken by a young local artist commissioned by Batniji.Batniji's personally driven work opens up quite a different dialogue with the audience than most of the other shows in the "America Great Again" category, which focus on U.S. society more broadly (at times from several decades ago).The different approaches Batniji has taken to his Gaza subject matter make for varied, engaging viewing, and prompt the audience to reflect on how Gaza itself is usually seen, on notions of home country and host country, and the internal leaps that accompany the geographical ones.
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