The Beauty and Melancholia of Tunisia’s Forgotten Town
Photographer Zied Ben Romdhane’s vision of an abandoned mining region
Sarah Ben Romdane
36-year-old Tunisian photographer Zied Ben Romdhane started documenting the melancholia and roughness of everyday life in Gafsa (a marginalised phosphate-mining region in the southwest of Tunisia) in 2014.
“Since the revolution, we keep on hearing about social issues on national TV. But, I think TV is an out-dated means of communication offering out-dated formats.
I decided to go by myself, see what’s happening in Gafsa, and document it. This is how I have decided to inform people”.
Like most Tunisians who live in the more prosperous coastal towns of the country, Zied had never visited this region: “I knew nobody when I got there, so I obviously met a lot of people while trying to make sense of the situation.
The southern part of the country has historically been isolated, yet division exists also within the local villages.
“The (mining) workforce came from all over North Africa, so demographically speaking there is no harmony. There is also disharmony with nature because life is almost impossible within the harsh landscapes of Gafsa. This is why the region is fragmented. Social, political and ethnical tensions intensify and create deeper instability”.