Desert Bloom

Desert Bloom, the second project in The Erasure Trilogy

Tracing the consequences of Ben-Gurion’s dream of settling the Negev and making the “desert bloom,” the aerial photographs that comprise Fazal Sheikh’s Desert Bloom project reveal the myriad forces and actions that have blossomed to displace and erase the Bedouins who have lived in the desert for generations. We can view the transformation wrought on the landscape by erosion, mining projects, military training camps, the forced evacuation and demolition of “unrecognized” Bedouin villages, the afforestation efforts, the clearing and appropriation of the desert, and the expansion of settlements. What these remarkable photographs show is that the alteration and devastation of the Negev desert often has gone hand-in-hand with violence against the Bedouins. Viewed through the lens of Sheikh’s camera the desert comes to us as a kind of archive of what has happened on its shifting surfaces, of what is hidden and sealed within its dunes, of all the efforts to use it to erase the traces of this long, often contradictory and violent history.