Forbidden Images: art and resistance under occupation

A conversation with Rehab Nazzal and Sarala Emmanuel
Followed by SAVAC’s Annual General Meeting (AGM)

February 24, 2024 from 11:00am-1:30pm EST

Event Type: Virtual

What role can art play in contexts of war, apartheid, and settler colonialism? What makes expressions of resistance and solidarity so powerful as to be heavily censored?
For decades, artist Rehab Nazzal has depicted what it means to live under occupation using photography, video, and sound. Her work reveals the everyday mechanisms of state surveillance, segregation, and control as well as people’s resistance. Rehab is currently in the West Bank documenting the unspeakable brutality against people in Jenin Refugee Camp. Here, Israeli Occupation Forces demonstrate disregard for Palestinian life by desecrating even images of Palestinian people. In Eastern Sri Lanka, researcher and activist Sarala Emmanuel has supported Tamil speaking women affected by war and violence for 20 years. She often works closely with women in rural communities, advocating for political and labour rights, queer and trans rights, and disability justice.
As Israel’s genocide in Gaza continues, we will screen Vibrations from Gaza (2023, 16 min) directed by Rehab Nazzal and invite you to participate in a live conversation between Rehab and Sarala as they draw connections between the violence against peoples, land, and non-human life in Palestine and Sri Lanka.

About the film:
Vibrations from Gaza offers a glimpse into the experiences of Deaf children in the colonized and confined coastal territory of Gaza, Palestine. Born and raised under Israeli siege and frequent onslaughts, Amani, Musa, Israa, and other Deaf children, provide vivid accounts of their encounter of bombardment and the constant presence of drones in their sky.


Rehab Nazzal is a Palestinian-born multidisciplinary artist currently based in the occupied West Bank, Palestine. Her work deals with the effects of settler-colonial violence on the bodies and minds of colonized peoples, on the land and on other non-human life. Nazzal’s video, photography and sound works have been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions across Canada and internationally. Dr. Nazzal was an assistant professor at Dar Al-Kalima University in Bethlehem and has taught at Simon Fraser University, Western University and Ottawa School of Art. She is a Postdoctoral Fellow at Concordia University, and the recipient of several awards, including the Social Justice Award from Toronto Metropolitan University and the Edmund and Isobel Ryan Visual Arts Award in Photography from the University of Ottawa.

Sarala Emmanuel is a feminist activist and researcher based in Batticaloa, Eastern Sri Lanka. She has worked for the past 20 years with communities of primarily Tamil speaking women affected by war and violence. Apart from supporting long standing struggles of truth, accountability, and justice for war time violations, Sarala also has been working closely with rural women’s groups on economic rights, labour rights, LGBTIQ+ rights, rights of women living with disabilities and responding to gender-based violence. Sarala also is a visiting lecturer at the Open University of Sri Lanka and the Post Graduate Institute of the University of Colombo. She is a founder member of the Feminist Collective for Economic Justice, an independent group formed in 2022, providing alternative discourses on the economic crisis and debt justice in Sri Lanka. Her research areas include women and peace building, sexual violence and transitional justice, land dispossession, women living with disabilities, rural women food producers and socio-economic rights. At the regional and international levels, she is a member of feminist networks such as SANGAT South Asia, APWLD, Asia Justice and Rights (AJAR) and DAWN.