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Mustafah Abdulaziz, Classic Club Golf Course, Palm Desert, California, USA, 2015
Mustafah Abdulaziz, Classic Club Golf Course, Palm Desert, California, USA, 2015
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Powerful Photographs Highlight Drought Crisis In California

Picture of Freire Barnes
Art & Design Editor
Updated: 15 November 2016
Coinciding with Washington’s FotoDC this November is an exhibition of works by photographer Mustafah Abdulaziz, winner of the Syngenta Photography Award Professional Commission 2014/15. Water: California highlights the growing drought crisis in California with poignant assertion.
Mustafah Abdulaziz, San Luis Reservoir, Merced County, California, USA, 2015
Mustafah Abdulaziz, San Luis Reservoir, Merced County, California, USA, 2015

In 2010, the United Nations reported that by 2025 nearly 3.4 billion people worldwide will face water scarcity. In 2011 Mustafah Abdulaziz began to document the challenges faced by the decline of water on different cultures in India, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Nigeria, Brazil and China.

Mustafah Abdulaziz, Southern Lake County fire, California, USA, 2015
Mustafah Abdulaziz, Southern Lake County fire, California, USA, 2015

In response to the Syngenta Photography Award‘s theme of Scarcity-Waste, the Berlin-based photographer submitted a proposal to focus on California’s devastating water shortage. “These photographs are not a reportage of drought, but rather, an examination of the ways in which human beings exist within the extreme margins of water. It is in this space that our structures, behaviour and perspectives are called into question,” explains Abdulaziz.

Mustafah Abdulaziz, Makeshift water pool in dry creek bed. Highway 38, San Bernardino County, Calfornia, USA, 2015
Mustafah Abdulaziz, Makeshift water pool in dry creek bed. Highway 38, San Bernardino County, Calfornia, USA, 2015

Spending two months in California discovering how water was distributed and used, Abdulaziz’s project presents both the harsh realities of a state gripped by drought but also how man takes this natural resource for granted.

Mustafah Abdulaziz, Ivanhoe Reservoir, Los Angeles, California, 2015
Mustafah Abdulaziz, Ivanhoe Reservoir, Los Angeles, California, 2015

From LA’s Ivanhoe Reservoir filled with millions of “shade balls” to reduce evaporation and the chance of algae to the fires in Southern Lake County, Abdulaziz presents a powerful visual story of water scarcity in the Golden State.

Water: California by Mustafah Abdulaziz is at the National Geographic Museum, 1145 17th St NW, Washington, DC 20036, USA, until January 30 2017.