‘Bedu’ addresses issues of identity and representation by studying the history of western orientalist photographic representation of the Arab man. Within this context, the Bedouin man is constantly performing for the voyeuristic gaze. Forever represented as the nomadic man living a quaint life in the desert, and he, unlike the rest of the world is immune to the impact of time, development, and modernity.
The exotic lens which captured ‘the Other’, has shaped the global perception of the region under the same lens. And continues to shape it today.
In reality, the Bedouin community is experiencing a transitional shift from traditional to modern. They live in little towns on the outskirts of the desert and welcome technology. With tourism as the major source of income, most Bedouins find themselves playing the role of traditional bedouin to fulfil tourist expectations. In a sense, it is a role that every coming generation will fall into, and in most cases, it is the only role available.
I worked in collaboration with the Bedouin men of the Wadi Rum desert in Jordan to create an inclusive and reflective body of work. It is a performative play with the viewer’s vision of the man, the desert and the relationship between both. The Bedouins are seen performing within the frame, either losing themselves into the landscape or returning the gaze to the viewer. This dance within the landscape hopes to emphasize the preformative role that plays into most aspects of the tourism industry. As a person who seeks to experience people and places through your lens, what role do you play in this performance, and shaping the reality of the people who are captured through your lens?