In 2011 the French photographer Frederic Brenner invited eleven prominent photographers to spend six months in residence in Israel and the Occupied Territories, or West Bank, to explore the area’s complexity and to create bodies of work that might broaden and reframe the conversation about the region. Among those invited was Sheikh, an artist best known for his sensitive black-and-white portraits of people living in displaced and marginalized communities around the world. Sheikh’s project takes the form of a trilogy titled Erasure, of which Desert Bloom is the central part. The images were made during several months of flying above the Negev desert and are intended to articulate the rapid transformation of the region. On the one hand, they invoke the Israeli endeavor to “make the desert bloom,” and on the other, they reveal traces of the Negev’s history: the construction of towns for the Bedouin, the natural erosion of the land, the demolition of local dwellings, the remains of military installations, the afforestation campaigns of the Jewish National Fund (JNF), and the transformation of nomadic desert regions into farmland.
Inscription: Signed, titled and dated in ink on label affixed to mount verso; stamped on mount verso. [per gallery; mount inaccessible due to framing]
Fazal Sheikh; [Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York]
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Now You See It: Photography and Concealment," March 31, 2014–September 1, 2014.
Infrastructure amid erosion and marks of passage, Highway 90, Arava, the Negev, Israel