Mohammed Hawajri opened his new exhibition “Cactus Borders” in Gaza, choosing the cactus plant as the theme for his exhibition to symbolize the plight of the people of Gaza who remain under siege, facing destruction and occupation. Hawajri was awarded a grant by the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC) in 2009 in the category Visual Arts. Below, he presents his exhibition in his own words:
"Cactus occupies a significant position in the Palestinian geography. Palestinian farmers used to take it as a fence to mark their properties. It still grows very beautifully in many Palestinian villages against many occasional annexations by the Israeli occupation starting from Al-Nakba or the catastrophe till today. I have my own vision of cactus as I see in its leaves something analogous to the human head. Its strong fortitude to survive within an extremely sordid environment and to stay persistent on ground typify the life in Gaza.
Inspirational and conductive to creative art, cactus is very recurrent in my works. Its hard shape and appearance contradict with its interior component storing water, and blooming with flowers and fruits. In spite of its fragile structure, cactus has sharp nails as defensive power to any assault. I felt inspired by this plant for its exclusiveness in the life of Palestinians and in the nature of its existence as I try to articulate my affection in terms of visual art. Cactus is taking a very dear place in my studio as I try to highlight every possible potential of this plant. In as much as it is an authentic figure, it occupied many contemporary artworks as a dominant theme. However, many Israeli efforts try to attribute cactus as a symbol of their identity. May Israeli artists try to include cactus in marketing their ideological Zionism to suggest their right of Palestine. Most Palestinian artists share with me their belief of cactus as representation of Palestinians in their patience and long term determination. Cactus is an eye witness to the many Israeli invasions against my people and will always form one of its rich geographical components. Cactus is till blooming and waiting patiently for Palestinian farmers to cultivate their land with love. These are the borders of cactus through my artworks."