The Wind that Shakes Dreams - PhMuseum

The Wind that Shakes Dreams

Fethi Sahraoui

2020 - Ongoing

Lockdown, curfew, and confinement are terms now becoming part of our vernacular, how does it feel like to be living under similar circumstances forever?

Southwest of Algiers, amidst a mountainous region, lays the village called Kahwet El Rih, its name translates as 'the wind cafe’. Constructed during the socialist era in the 70s, near the locality of Tarik Ibn Zied. It is said that an unusual number of the local inhabitants suffer from severe eyesight problems, causing varying levels of blindness for many people.

Some try to explain this phenomenon with the theory that the condition of blindness is a genetically transmissible disease, while others make more mystic explanations. The village on the hill is surrounded by barbary fig plantations (also known as prickly pear). It is believed that this issue of blindness is caused by the tiny thorns of the barbary fig flying in the air, especially during the harvest season, while some say this is just an urban myth. During the colonial era, the French army used to kill civilians and throw them on this species of cactus.

I was astounded when I first heard about the existence of this place. Reacting to it as a photographer was the first reaction that came to my mind, but I quickly realized that it is a very delicate topic. I believe that taking part in The Joop Swart Masterclass helped me to tackle this much important topic to my eyes.

surprisingly, there were no COVID-19 fatalities among the villagers, but the impact of this pandemic has been obviously felt on other levels. The blind people of the village sit most of the time on the roadside waiting for the help of passersby, and sanitary measures diminished the mobility all over the country drastically, making the situation of the blind persons and their relatives extremely challenging. It is true that the neediest receive a modest state allowance monthly which is around 80$ but that is not sufficient to assure a decent life.

Since I started this project, I have been interrogating myself about how popular culture depicts the existence of people with distorted vision, and inevitably I found myself asking similar questions, do they dream while sleeping? Do they have a sixth sense? Do their other senses become sharper? On the other hand, there is some evidence that suggests the use of a process called ‘echolocation’ by blind people. The Wind that Shakes Dreams is an attempt to explore the lives and the surroundings of the people residing in this village and will aim to understand what their environment means to them.

{{ readMoreButton }}

  • Blind people sitting by the main road crossing the village, it is worth to mention that the region suffered from the ravages of The Civil War in the '90s, commonly known as 'The Balck Decade', till today it is something common among the villagers to hear about the arrest or the killing of a terrorist in the region. Kahwet El Rih, Algeria, 2020

  • Aerial view of the village, source: Google maps.

  • A hunting dog wandering in the village, previously the villagers were living in remote houses from each other until the agrarian revolution came in the early '70s, the latter is part of Algeria's former president H.Boumediene socialism project, many people judge this as a fiasco. Kahwet El Rih, Algeria, 2020

  • Blind persons sitting by the roadside waiting for the help of passersby, Kahwet El Rih, Algeria, 2020

  • Details from a window inside the village, there is a lot of opacity in the statements of the villagers about the source of this cecity but If there’s one thing that the whole population of the village agrees on, it is definitely the toughness of conditions present there. Kahwet El Rih, Algeria, 2020

  • A resident filling the reservoir of his dwelling, as the village suffers from the lack of drinkable water, every week a water tank visits the villagers, every house has the right in 6 minutes of running water, Kahwet El Rih, Algeria, 2020

  • Details on the feet of a blind person, Kahwet El Rih, Algeria, 2020

  • Ali while walking inside the village toward his house with an improvised stick while a villager walking with his hunting dog, Ali said to me that because I'm acquainted with the surroundings of my village, I don't need a cane for a blind person, Kahwet El Rih, Algeria, 2020

  • Ali squatting on the roadside of his village, actually he is most of the time sitting in this position unlike the rest of the blind people, Ali started losing his sight gradually when he fell on a rock in the early '90, Kahwet El Rih, Algeria, 2020

  • Rocks used as archaic chairs by the blind people of the village, Kahwet El Rih, Algeria, 2020

  • A barbary fig plantation near the village of Kahwet El Rih, Algeria, 2020

  • A youngster selling two partridges after he hunted them with a traditional trap in the surroundings of his village, Kahwet El Rih, Algeria, 2020

  • A youngster selling the last harvests of the season of barbary fig to passersby, Kahwet El Rih, Algeria, 2020

  • A fig tree with worn-out clothes on it, Kahwet El Rih, Algeria, 2020

  • Ali reaching his house while a villager walking with his hunting dog, Kahwet El Rih, Algeria, 2020

  • A blind person sitting by the roadside waiting for the help of passersby, Kahwet El Rih, Algeria, 2020

  • A cow grazing in the mountains near the village, Kahwet El Rih, Algeria, 2020

  • A young boy playing with his sister while sitting on a tree, Kahwet El Rih, Algeria, 2020


Newsletter