— Birth of Utopia —
When we first discovered Rawabi in 2012, we were fascinated by the powerful marketing images of the visitor center: a 3D film showing the future life of the city with happy western- looking families, living in spacious apartments with modern equipment. Sky views showing the rendering of the future city that reminds undoubtedly the aspect of an Israeli settlement, except for its giant Roman style amphitheatre and its mosque… At the heart, the open air mall with famous western brands, and at the highest point of the hill, the towers of the business center. In these images, the surrounding settlements, the separation wall and the villages are erased, and only the hills covered with olive trees appear.
We were then exploring the transformations of the society and economy in Palestine in the context of globalization; Rawabi appeared like an exemplar illustration of the liberal dream defended by the Palestinian elites. It echoes the Renaissance utopia of the “Ideal City”, aspiring to human and architectural perfection, Rawabi’s urban model seems to embrace the qualities of “good citizenship” expected for the future State of Palestine.
We decided to show the genesis of Rawabi, at this stage where everything is still brand new and looks identical to the advert images. We chose to alternate between images of the city’s streets with their inhabitants, photos of promotional posters, and staged scenes of Rawabi’s inhabitants, where they recreate a plausible scene of their daily life, in order to create a feeling of confusion between artificial and real. This sense of uncertainty, similar to the surrealist feeling, is for us a reflect of the disconnection of our contemporary world with reality.
Andrea and Magda are a duo of photographers from France and Italy. They lived and work mostly in the Middle East since 2008. They interrogate the models shaping contemporary societies in the Middle East in a context of globalization, exploring the economic, cultural and architectural aspects.
Their first chapter «Palestinian Dream» was proposing a different view of Palestine in transformation with the emergence of a consumption society in the context of the Israeli occupation. With «Sinai Park» , they have then explored the consequences of the mass tourism on the territory and architecture on the Red Sea coast in Sinai. With « Arabian tales », images of the the shooting stage of the TV series was revealing the self-representation of the Middle-East through television. The fourth chapter, «Birth of a Utopia» tells the genesis of a new planned city in Palestine.
Their work has been shown in different photography events and museums such as La Maison Européenne de la Photo or Fotomuseo Bogotà and was published in magazines internationally (Time, 6 mois, Newsweek Japan, Courrier International, Sunday Times magazine, Internazionale, Libération…). They recently received the support of CNAP (Centre National des Arts Plastiques) and Fondation Les Treilles for their last project “Arabian Tales”, and were nominated for the Prix Pictet 2016.