Roger Grasas has been touring across the Center East along with his digicam since 2005, documenting the area’s various peoples and landscapes. For his newest sequence, “Ha Aretz”—Aramaic for “The Promised Land”—the Spanish photographer determined to journey by way of the six international locations that now represent the world described within the Scriptures: Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, and Syria.
Grasas started the venture in 2011, on the daybreak of the democratic uprisings that got here to be often called the Arab Spring. Over the following years, the Arab Spring pale into an Arab Winter as Syria spiraled into civil warfare and Egypt confronted an authoritarian backlash to its once-promising revolution. When Grasas first visited Damascus, the traditional metropolis was a bustling, trendy metropolis; right now, among the mosques he photographed have been destroyed within the combating.
Regardless of the area’s chaos, Grasas endured, photographing among the world’s oldest constantly inhabited cities. He centered on the best way these cities have tailored to modernity, emphasizing startling juxtapositions of the traditional and the trendy, just like the Giza pyramids as seen by way of the window of a Pizza Hut, or a line of vacationer buses snaking throughout the Mount of Olives.
“I wanted to take these Biblical stories that have been narrated for thousands of years and photograph the places where the stories take place,” Grasas explains. “I wanted to see how, after 20 or 30 centuries, the civilizations have evolved.” Earlier this month, the sequence was awarded the Descubrimientos PHE18 Prize on the Photograph España pictures pageant in Madrid.
Grasas is not spiritual himself, however says he has a deep respect for spirituality—and was disturbed by the booming tourism business that has turned many Center Japanese cities into museums, with guests coming to gawk whereas locals attempt to go about their each day lives. “The locals also have their spirituality, but in a more quotidian way, because they live there,” Grasas says.
Though he needed to be careful for Al-Qaeda whereas photographing within the Sinai Peninsula, and was steadily hassled by border guards, Grasas largely prevented the chaotic violence that has engulfed the area in recent times. Referring to the Bible, Grasas factors out that battle is nothing new within the Center East. “When there are layers and layers of history, and the cities are so old, it creates beauty but it also creates complexity,” he says. “And complexity sometimes leads to conflict.”