In celebration of the ongoing LensCulture Portrait Awards 2016, we will be publishing a series of inspiring features on great contemporary portraiture. Enjoy!

One of the dramas involving the Palestinian people, in addition to the difficult socio-political situation, is that a very large number of their men are in Israeli prisons.

But what, then, can we say about the struggle of the women left behind?

I sought to respond to this question in my work “(Single) Women,” which tells the story of the mothers, wives and daughters of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli detainment. Waiting for the return of their men, these women struggle to support their families, both economically and emotionally, often finding themselves with many children to raise.

I was intrigued by how the lives of these women are suspended as they wait and wait…and wait…

—Antonio Faccilongo


Editors’ Note: Since we first published this story, we have received a wide variety of responses to the work—hardly a surprise given the sensitive and complicated nature of the situation in Israel and Palestine.

Still, one factual point which we wanted to clear up concerned the location of where the portraits were shot. As several of the captions state, some photographs were made in “refugee camps.” Although these settings might not match our vision of what refugee camps “should” look like, these are, in fact, refugee camps.

As Faccilongo told us when we reached out to him for more details, “Refugee camps in Palestine began 50+ years ago. At the beginning, they were temporary tents. Over the years, they have moved from tents to masonry houses with electricity and running water. In general, the conditions of the homes are poor, but many of the families at least have a well-organized room to receive guests. It is in these rooms where I decided to photograph them, in order to capture a glimpse of their social and family life.”