A personal project in which I reconnect to my roots and explore the notion of an identity cited through the Bedouin community of St. Catherine in South Sinai, Egypt. Working collaboratively with the Bedouin community to create a body of work about the search for belonging and the interconnectedness of people and land.
Working collaboratively with the community, I’m focusing on visually depicting this poetic interconnected harmony while using the community’s commentary of embroidery, poetry, sound and storytelling to link the photographic work with topics of social injustice and the history of the community’s struggles. The final outcome of the project is a complementary collection of photographs, written content, embroidery and multimedia.
The story attempts to understand the layers of an identity and the intertwined connections between people and land which defines the notion of belonging. In doing so, the story aims to raise questions and create a dialogue on the meaning of identity and the search for belonging. I believe it’s a common human emotion to seek a definition of one’s identity, yet its complexity is often ignored, creating linear labels and othering. With this dialogue I hope to build a bridge between the voices of the Bedouin community and western audiences who have long seen the Bedouins and many other indigenous communities through a linear and romanticized gaze.
This project has been my opportunity to process my estranged ancestry and the Sinai land that the community has sacrificed so much for and in return live in its blessings. It’s this interconnectedness which survived in my blood and drew me back to this land to find my roots and way home.
The project has additionally branched further from the main body of work, producing a field guide specifically for the younger generations in the Bedouin community. Developed through a collaboration with tribe elders and older members in the community, this field guide is a compilation of plants and herbs natively grown in South Sinai with many medicinal and hygiene benefits. The field guide includes photographs of the plants, descriptions of its traditional use handwritten by collaborators and information on when and where the plants can be found and harvested including illustrations. This field guidebook is aimed towards engaging younger members to celebrate and preserve the traditional and modern Bedou’ identity. It is a bridge between generations to reconnect to their land.