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The Bedouin workers were settling down in the field for the night. They didn’t sleep in a building but on the road that runs around the edge of the olive grove. It was really striking; the contrast with their colourful blankets and the prison and the olives and the beautiful light of the setting sun. I stood at the point where the picture was eventually taken and I could see the whole scene and I thought, maybe this could be a picture. Jeff Wall
During his first visit to Israel in October 2010, Jeff Wall came upon a scene of Bedouin olive pickers sleeping on a farm near Mitzpe Ramon, which sits in the shadow of a large prison. Struck by the encounter between prison and orchard, between the freedom of those sleeping under the sky contrasted against those who are not visible, sleeping in cells underground, Wall resolved to return and recreate the scene.
The image was meticulously restaged during the next harvest in October 2011. Setting up camp at a nearby hotel, with the laundry room converted into a makeshift lab, Wall worked with a team of Israeli assistants, following the same routine each day: waking before dawn, photographing just as the sun rose, making several exposures over a 10 minute spell. The image was sought over three weeks.
Daybreak is part of This Place, a project exploring the complexity of Israel and the West Bank through the eyes of twelve internationally renowned photographers.
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