|In the run-up to our major exhibition, 'Roads of Arabia. Archaeological Treasures from Saudi Arabia', due to go on show at the Pergamon Museum on 26 January 2012, the Museum of Islamic Art now presents a series of stunning photographs by the Düsseldorf-based artist Ursula Schulz-Dornburg, featuring landscape shots from the Hejaz.
The Hejaz is an endless expanse of desert, traversed in parts by impassable mountains. The photographs capture the emptiness of this barren landscape, the faded trails and dirt roads that cross the land, apparently leading nowhere. They are the remains of ancient pilgrim and caravan routes, along which goods were transported from the south of Arabia to Syria in the north and vice versa.
At many points along these routes, the artist has especially managed to capture the strange remnants of a not too distant past that nevertheless seems like an age away. Railway tracks covered in sand, rusted locomotives, deserted stations: vague memories of the Hejaz Railway, once an engineering project of great political significance, which was built from 1900 to 1908 by the Ottomans with German aid, as a way of securing greater control over the Arabian provinces.
Ursula Schulz-Dornburg is known internationally for her numerous exhibitions in Europe, the Middle East and the USA. She travelled around the Hejaz in 2003.