“freedom is truly lived by the ones who live the simplest.”
‘The challenges of freedom in Jordan are that its inhabitants are too critical and unaccepting of one and other, resulting in high societal pressures’. Murad describes this phenomenon as ‘Alorf’; unspoken cultural traditions followed by the Jordanians in order to not be excluded from the mainstream. According to Murad, freedom is not about how somebody decides to live, but about the freedom of choice to select your own way of life within a society. ‘In Jordan, a lot of elements seem to be filled in for its inhabitants. Your cultural lifestyle seems to be dependent on whether you’re Muslim or Christian and are a successor from a specific class or not.’
I met the 27 year old videographer from Jordan on a hot August summer day in Amman. The city’s cacophony and heat level above 40 degrees however did not seem to reduce our passion to speak of photography, freedom and cultural traditions within our cultures. While seated on one of Amman’s many open rooftops Murad shares his definition on freedom in linkage to photography. ‘I prefer to capture people’s strengths instead of their possible weaknesses, we know enough about that within this country.’ Murad continues to share that his paradigm on freedom is one in which ‘I can be the person that I want to be and not be judged for that, I want to have that option.’ As a part of this project I have asked photographers what their most liberating environment within the city is. He responds that a majority of his friends would probably mention ‘artsy, fartsy’ Jabal Wabli as one. Jabal Wabli, also referred to as the Paris square, is a small borough in Amman where Jordan’s elitists and expats mostly live or gather. Jordanians that dare to take a tattoo or piercing are to be found over there because it is the only environment in the city where one can proudly show them off and be accepted for it. However, Murad disagrees. ‘When one has to limit themselves to a borough in order to express their true identity, I would not refer to that as freedom, rather a route of escape. I call It cornered freedom.’ * But how would Murad frame his vision on freedom?
Within his selected series [tittle] he collected fragments of his impressive works on life outside the dynamic city of Amman. Rural areas, childhood, nature and travels. Murad’s work impressively captures life’s complex simplicity in lineage with its purest state outside the mainstream. Through his works he aims to let the images speak for themselves as he paves his own discovered route through self-proclaimed freedoms and paradoxes.
*These are selected fragments from an extensive interactive interview held with Murad Abaza in the summer of 2016.