Born in 1971 in Quantanna, a small village north-west of Jerusalem in a peasant family where he was a shepherd, Raed Bawayah has lived and worked in Paris for 15 years.
He started in the field of construction and worked there for ten years.
In 2000, he decided to leave his work to realize his childhood dream: to become a photographer. He joined the photography department of the Musrara School of Art. While still a student, he exhibited at the French Cultural Centre in Jerusalem. This first exhibition «Childhood Memories» in which he presents a series of black and white portraits of children from his village is a great success.
He dedicates a year to realize a series of photos in the psychiatric hospital of Bethlehem, the only mental health hospital in Palestine, for a new project. One can therefore perceive the human motivation that will be the driving force of his artistic projects. The mentally ill, the excluded, the abnormal are subjects that interest him by their human strength, in resonance with his personal history. So he’s trying to represent what society is discrediting.
He obtained a grant from the French Embassy for a residency at the Cité internationale des arts in Paris. His departure for Paris is his first trip and upon his arrival, his success was almost immediate. He made several exhibitions of his photographic work in many places of the French capital and received several commissions from the Paris City Council, the Centre National des Arts Plastiques and the Ministry of Culture.
His first exhibition in Paris took place at la Cité international des arts with his series “Identification N°925596611” that dealt with illegal palestinian workers in Israël.
In 2006, he joined Israeli photographer Pavel Wolberg for the exhibition “Ramallah-Tel Aviv, au jour le jour” at the Hôtel de Ville in Paris. Afterward the City of Paris commissioned another exhibition “Paris le jour – Paris la nuit” from the same two photographers.
In 2007, his solo exhibition “Living in Palestine” was shown at le Visa pour l’image photojournalism festival in Perpignan. His work in black and white, far from the burning news of the conflict, reflects the living conditions of men, in hospitals, homes or refugee camps.
Raed Bawayah presented his work “Hospital” at the Rencontres d’Arles 2009 and received the discovery Award.
In 2014, la Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris devoted an exhibition to him: « Empreintes de passage- Passing Prints », a retrospective of its various photographic series.
Since his arrival in Paris, Raed has made many trips to realize his photographic documentary projects, in Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America as well as in his native country. During these trips he made many series such as «Faces Shadow» in Germany in 2007, «Sun Colors» in Romania in 2007, «Cold greenhouses» in Russia in 2009, «The White and Black Souls» in Austria in 2010, «Good trip» in France, in 2006-2010, «The Veins of the Earth» in Palestine in 2012, «Les Sables Chaudes», in Colombia in 2013, «The Darkness of the Light» in Mauritania in 2018, and «The Lips of the Nile» in Egypt in 2019.
His work is the subject of numerous exhibitions in many countries such as France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Austria, Luxembourg, Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Malaysia. His works are kept in several collections of museums, foundations and private collections around the world such as that of la Maison Européenne de la photographie in Paris, le Fond national d’Art contemporain, the Schloss Akademie Solitude in Stuttgart in Germany, the Jerusalem Foundation or the Tel-Aviv Museum and more.
Raed Bawayah has a vision of photography simple, purified, authentic. His work is made in black and white, by a film camera. He considers photography as a human commitment, a tool to spread messages and cross borders. Thanks to it, Raed was able to experience the exploration of foreign communities and marginalized groups, and give them a very poetic vision. It is this human character of photography that interests the artist. His series shows us that we are all part of one and the same humanity.
Whether it be with the children of his village who venture very little outside his perimeter, Palestinian workers forced to exile themselves and sell their force in Israel, the sick of the psychiatric hospital of Bethlehem, or even gypsy communities in France and homeless people in Germany, Raed Bawayah always operates with an approach «from the inside».
It blends into these different communities, it enters into a relationship with its subjects, it builds trust to realize, in a second time only, a photographic work realistic and objective, which knows how to keep modesty, compassion and respect, free of any misery.
This is how Raed Bawayah considers his work and mission as a photographer: he testifies to the world and gives these people on the margins, a place in the heart of the city, in the heart of our lives, in cultural institutions and exhibition rooms.
Read Bawayah takes the opposite view of the news of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, through a long-term work carried out in the Palestinian territories for four years. His photographs highlight the reality experienced by marginalized classes within Palestinian society.
Raed wanted to bring another face to Palestine, to erase that of the conflict that is born in the minds, that of blood, arms and violence to give it a human face. “There are no borders for the image and humanity, no visa or passport is needed for it to circulate.”
Raed Bawayah’s photographs speak for themselves, without excess of pathos, true photographic compositions of the human condition. Beyond political contexts his photography explores individual identity with modesty and sensitivity.