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Scarlett Coten



Still Alive
France     www.scarlettcoten.com

It’s six o’clock in the morning in February and for the first time in my life I’m crossing a border on foot! It gives me a real sense of adventure. A deserted road at the water’s edge, bordered to the west by the mountains of South Sinai. Later on I will travel the desert from the Gulf of Aqaba to the Gulf of Suez, from Rafah to Dahab, from Abu-Zenima to Naqhl, from Sarabit to Ras Abu Galium. Day after day I photograph my journey. What’s going on, what surrounds me, the people I meet. My backdrop is the desert, our travels and halts. These are my guiding lines.

I photograph my hosts; those that ask me to, those that pose. Gestures and laughter replace the spoken word. Time seems different, the people too. It’s a hot summer. From one area of shade to another, we reach for each breath of air, each lift of the breeze. I no longer know which day it is; we live in the present. I gain the trust of the women who show me their private quarters. In their brightly colored robes, between a heart-shaped clock and a stylized palm-tree on the wall, the Bedouin pose with all the seriousness and attention that this new experience requires. They smoke, raising their veil with one hand. I fall in love with this cheerful and curious people, who consent to pose for me, and do so with delight.

Thus, between reality and fiction, I photograph this inner journey that bears witness to my experience, guided by my inspiration; play and staging bring us together, beyond our different cultures, for a moment of shared happiness.

At each meeting, I am greeted with the words: “still alive!”

These photographs are the illustration of the humour, enthusiasm and modernity of this astonishing people. Forgotten, destitute, but alive!