The oasis, a surreal spring of life in the midst of the desert, has often been associated with a refuge, a pleasant experience in contrast to its arid surroundings. Key in the development of commercial routes through North Africa and the Middle East, this relay point becomes a symbol of displacement, driven by economic needs.
In postcolonial imagination, the oasis suffers from a romantic cliché of Orientalism; as an inland of greenery hidden in a sea of sand, dromedaries relaxing in the palm tree’s shade. This is why the oasis has become the perfect scenery for tourism, which bases its success on such anchored, biased perception of the refuge: a well-rounded Orientalist dream.
But the oasis also embodies the political strategies of the crucial management of water, a market-driven control of nature.
Throughout the residency, I would like to excavate those different narratives that occur in midst in the desert landscape. Questioning whether the oasis is a mirage means to play with those different assumptions and to construct an alternate reality, a hyperreal oasis.
Appropriating the McDonald’s symbol echoes the last remnant of consumerist civilization supposedly left out when entering the desert. This comes from my own experience of driving into the desert, where the last human trace was this tall distinctive sign.
But at the same time, our current economic reality is never fully abandoned in the desert, as the oasis is a strategic geographic point on a map. So, the sign comes back and installs itself in the desert, as a mirage, neither there nor absent, embodying hyperreality.