20111031

Sahara means desert in Arabic and the journey crossing the High Atlas mountains to the Great Oasis Valleys took hours. The landscape changed gradually from green to rusty tones, from verdant to dry. The sky became gray and sandy and the landscape was dotted with red kasbahs and simple clay houses. Tamegroute means the last town before the border, as once it was in the frontier with Algeria; yet borders move and the shape of countries are re-configured throughout history.

We visited the slave quarters and the ceramic cooperative, an area still inhabited by descendants of Sudanese slaves. The all hand-made green glazed pottery is characteristic of the area. By looking at the process of potters laboring the clay, while submerging their bodies in the earth, amid black smoke coming from the kilns, I wondered about art and the human condition in the towns of the Sahara. Using local materials and ancient techniques that might not be any longer practical, people work hard and live in scarcity surrounded by the rough desert.

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