I was mentally prepared to accept the inevitable reality shock before I moved to Rochester from my home country, Palestine. A place like the Gaza Strip, where I grew up, has its own unique reality that mixes the norms of a contemporary life with the abnormalities. As I thought that I overcame the reality shock after spending almost two years in Rochester, I became aware of the fact that I became able to look back at my Gazan identity from a new and fresh angle. Smuggling Life is a multimedia art project that highlights the phenomenon of sperm smuggling by Palestinian Prisoners in the Israeli prisons. Family members coordinate visits where a visitor picks up used candy bags, cigarette lighters, and chocolate bars containing a sperm vial to be smuggled out. The two-decade long phenomenon conducted by Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons has resulted in conceiving more than 64 children. The aesthetic vision of the artworks is projected to discuss the dangerous consequences that accompany this phenomenon, such as depriving the Palestinian prisoners of any family visits, the scrutiny of the conservative Palestinian community, depriving the children who are born through this process of any governmental documents or passports, and reflecting on the transition of my own identity.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Photography, Artistic--Themes, motives; Artificial insemination, Human--Gaza Strip--Social aspects--Pictorial works; Smuggling--Israel--Pictorial works; Prison visits--Israel--Pictorial works; Palestinian Arabs--Portraits

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Photography and Related Media (MFA)

Department, Program, or Center

School of Photographic Arts and Sciences (CAD)


Joshua Thorson

Advisor/Committee Member

Angela Kelly


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes