“Chicago” is a fake Arab town built by Israel in the middle of the Negev desert to train its military forces in urban warfare. It was called that because of its bullet-ridden fake walls that recall the punctured real walls of Al Capone's Chicago.
Here photographs by Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin showing this artificial but also very realistic replica of Palestinian city. In their book about the project we can read:
“To create this alternative universe, Palestinian architecture has been carefully scrutinized. Roads and alleyways have been constructed to mimic the layout of towns like Ramallah and Nablus. In one corner the ground has been covered in sand, a reference to unpaved refugee camps like Jenin. Graffiti has been applied to the walls with obscure declarations in Arabic: 'I love you Ruby' and 'Red ash, hot as blood'. Burned-out vehicles line the streets.”
What’s more fascinating than it’s spatial authenticity is the fact that the history of this ghost town “directly mirrors the history of the Palestinian conflict”. Aparently most of Israel's major military tactics in the Middle East over the past three decades were performed in advance here, with soldiers rehearsing tactics like actors in a studio set.
Looking at these amazing photographs and realizing how complex the Arab-Israeli conflict is, one wonders if places like Chicago will ever be replaced with something real, something built on natural, positive human activities?
Well, I hope I will live long enough to see that happen.