Out of the Wasteland…

Out of the Wasteland…

 

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In November 2013 I was invited to photograph the Taragalte Festival in M’hamid El Ghizlane, an historic oasis town in Morocco, about 30km from the Algerian border. Alongside concerts in the dunes and a musical residency programme, the festival supported a number of other complementary artistic ventures. One of these was a project led by the Dutch collective JiHaa and artist Erik Hoogendorp. Erik designed a huge loom for the festival site to ‘weave’ a carpet made from recycled materials, inspired by traditional Boucheroite rug designs.

I drove out with Erik to a desolate wasteland on the outskirts of M’hamid; the imposing Moroccan military base in the distance was a reminder of our proximity to the Algerian border. There was not another person or vehicle in sight.

Erik needed coloured plastic bottle tops, sardine cans and shiny foil for his recycled carpet. The constantly shifting sand had partly buried the rubbish on this vast plain. Occasionally there was a splash of green, where a plant struggled against the odds to flourish in the unforgiving environment. Decaying corpses of sheep and goats had been reduced to skulls, teeth, horns and hooves.