West Bank, 2011
WAR-TOYS began in 2011 with support from the Spafford Children’s Center in East Jerusalem. They were the first NGO to take a chance on the then-unproven project and allow access to staff and children under their care. Operating continuously since 1925, the center primarily serves Palestinian children and families, many of whom live in outlying areas. Art based interviews were integrated into an existing psychosocial program, and children were invited to share their perspectives. Many of their drawings showed actual events that the boys and girls had witnessed, while others focused on lingering fears – fears of attack, fears of imprisonment, fears of losing their family. Pictures were filled with missiles, soldiers, tanks, planes, and the dead, often mixed together with nationalistic themes. Children inside the Dheisheh Refugee Camp near Bethlehem created very similar drawings. Thanks to an introduction from Spafford, an art-based interview was organized with local children at the Ibdaa Cultural Center. The artwork they created often dealt with deeply personal events alongside accounts of youth resistance against incursions into the camp. To recreate the accounts, Brian traveled the West Bank and photographed at locations well-known to the children, including the Kalandia Checkpoint, the narrow streets of Dheisheh, the Arab Quarter of the Old City, and along the separation barrier.