The Erasure Trilogy: Fazal Sheikh interviewed by Shela Sheikh

Sheikh, Shela and Sheikh, Fazal. 2016. The Erasure Trilogy: Fazal Sheikh interviewed by Shela Sheikh. Slought, [Article]

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Abstract or Description

In 2010, Fazal Sheikh visited Israel and the West Bank for the first time. Sheikh had been invited to join This Place, a project initiated by the photographer Frédéric Brenner to explore the region through the lenses of twelve internationally-renowned photographers.1 During the course of the many extended visits to the region that were to follow, Sheikh produced three bodies of work—Memory Trace, Desert Bloom, and Independence/Nakba—published collectively by Steidl in 2015 as The Erasure Trilogy. Together, through their juxtaposition of the photographic image and text, the three volumes trace the legacies of the Arab–Israeli War of 1948 and its lasting impact on the Palestinians, Bedouins, and Israelis of the region. While Desert Bloom, the work produced for This Place, has been exhibited in the traveling group exhibition that began in 2014, this spring marks the first simultaneous exhibition of all three elements.2 Collectively presented under the title Erasures, the trilogy internally opens up in a movement of dispersal across multiple institutions, each with differing remits, and with this distinct, albeit often overlapping, audiences: the Slought Foundation (Philadelphia), the Brooklyn Museum, the Pace/MacGill Gallery, and Storefront for Art and Architecture (all New York), the Al-Ma’mal Foundation for Contemporary Art (East Jerusalem), and the Khalil Sakakini Cultural Center (Ramallah).3 To mark the occasion of this ambitious curatorial gesture, the interview that follows has been published through the Slought Foundation, where Sheikh is currently artist-in-residence. This discussion, which took place in Zurich in the summer of 2014, was initially commissioned by the This Place project, and appeared in an abridged and edited form in the group exhibition catalogue, published by MACK.4 Here, Sheikh reflects upon his initial responses to the region, the genesis and challenges of each of the elements of the trilogy, as well as the relations between them and his hopes for their effectivity, and his mode of working more broadly. As such, together with the extensive documentation provided both within the Erasure Trilogy publications and across the venues, as well as a series of artist’s talks programed for this spring, the conversation lends further context to the multiplatformed curatorial event of Erasures, which takes as its point of departure the following works.

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Palestine/Israel, photography, green colonialism, environmentalism, memory

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Centre for Cultural Studies (1998-2017)


8 July 2016Published Online

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Date Deposited:

27 Jul 2017 08:37

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:28


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