Ground Truth

2016 – present

(Developed as part of my PhD research and as a Project Coordinator and Researcher at Forensic Architecture)

On July 27th 2010, heavy machinery and workers escorted by 1,500 policemen arrived at the Palestinian Bedouin village of al-Araqib and by noon that day demolished it to the ground, uprooting all trees and leveling all structures. Authorities left around 400 residents with no alternative housing. By evening of that day, the families of al-Araqib rebuilt what they could of the village, erecting basic wooden structures and tents in place of their previous homes. At the time of writing, we counted nearly 180 such cycles of demolition and rebuilding of what remains of al-Araqib. By now, it has been reduced to slightly over a dozen residents, living under extremely harsh conditions within the confines of their own ancestors’ graves in the al-Turi Cemetery.  

Through a collaborative process of DIY ground and aerial photography with Forensic Architecture, PublicLab, Zochrot, and the local families of al-‘Araqīb, a kind of ‘civic satellite’ is formed. We use kites and balloons equipped with simple cameras to form a methodology through which aerial and ground views can be gathered across multiple expeditions. These are assembled through photogrammetry into stacked geo-referenced 3D point-cloud photo terrains. Photographs, taken by residents and activists, document not only expulsion and destruction but also their ongoing life and resistance. These photographs, along with other media, data, and testimony, attest to an inflicted violence by connecting the history of this local land struggle to larger-scale and longer-term environmental transformations and to the conflicts that such changes have provoked.

Project Collaborators

The community of al-‘Araqīb: Nūri al-Uqbi, Sheikh Sayah al-Tūri, Aziz al-Tūri , Sabach al-Tūri Marim abu Mad’im, Salim al-Tūri

Forensic Architecture team: Eyal Weizman (Principle Investigator), Ariel Caine (Project Coordinator & Researcher, photogrammetry, video), Franc Camps-Febrer & Lachlan Kermode (Design & Software Development), Samaneh Moafi (Film editing), Tiago Patatas (research assistance)

Zochrot team: Debbie Farber, Umar al-Ghubari, Rana Gnayem, Lotte Bjerg Thomsen

Hagit Keysar (Public Lab)

ActiveStills Collective Oren Ziv, Keren Manor, Yotam Ronen.

Professor Oren Yiftachel teaches political and legal geography, urban and regional planning and public policy at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. Yiftachel is one of the main critical geographers and social scientists working in Israel/Palestine.

Miki Kratsman Miki Kratsman an artist and photographer. “The Bedouin Visual Archive”, a project which he is undertaking in collaboration with the Negev Coexistence Forum (NCF) is aiming to use narrative and visual literacy to raise awareness to the rights violations of the Bedouin and give voice to their silenced histories and claims on the land.

As part of his work in the Negev and specifically in al-‘Araqīb, Miki Kratsman took part in the discussions, meetings and conceptualisation around the formation of this project.

Michael Sfard (Michael Sfard Law Office | Legal Partners) is a lawyer specializing in international human rights law and the laws of war. He has served as counsel in various cases on these topics in Israel. Sfard has represented a variety of Israeli and Palestinian human rights and peace organizations, movements and activists at the Israeli Supreme Court. Team: Michael Sfard, Carmel Pomerantz.

Forensic Architecture, Masters Course students (MAFA) at Centre for Research Architecture Goldsmiths, University of London, 2017.

Princeton University Conflict Shorelines II course students, taught by Eduardo Cadava and Eyal Weizman in spring 2017.