URSULA SCHULZ-DORNBURG
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TRAIN STATIONS OF THE HEJAZ RAILWAY

The Hejaz region, located in the western part of the Arabian peninsula, stretches along the mountainous coast of the Red Sea between the Gulf of Accaba and the highlands of Asir.

 

Paths. Routs of pilgrimage. Caravan roads since the beginning of time. Where people moved, a new path came about. The great incense road. In the Islamic period, pilgrimages to the holy shrines of Islam in Mecca and Medina. Nomads' country, where one of the countless gods of this region bore the name: He Who Drinks No Wine and Builds No Home. Along the way: writing, graffiti on boulders and stones, in Arabic, Aramaic, and characters from languages no one knows any longer.

The Hejaz Railway was built under Ottoman rule between 1900 and 1908, constructed by the German engineer Heinrich Meissner. It covered a distance of 1,300 kilometers between Damascus and Medina. In rebellion against Ottoman rule and with the support of T. E. Lawrence, the legendary Lawrence of Arabia, Bedouin tribes destroyed the railway line in 1916-17.

All that remained behind in this nowhere land are these train stations, at which no trains halt, no one waits. Standardized architecture, consisting of two rectangular forms, arranged in the shape of an "L", a few openings for windows. The tracks have been tarn out, the roadbeds trace vague gravel trails across the desert. The path is reclaimed by the stratigraphy of history, which is rooted in the nameless.

Profound silence is spread across the barren scenes. In this silence, in the light of their imminent disappearance, these functionless buildings acquire the most intense presence. In 2003, Ursula Schulz-Dornburg followed this path and photographed what amounts, for the time-being, to the last layer of occurrence at this location on the planet, both looking in and looking out.

 

Matthias Bärmann

 

exhibition catalogue: URSULA SCHULZ-DORNBURG. ARCHITEKTUREN DES WARTENS. FOTOGRAFIEN. Architekturforum Aedes West, Berlin 2004


© Ursula Schulz-Dornburg.



© Ursula Schulz-Dornburg