Water is a photographic typology and exploration of a natural resource in crisis. A United Nations report warned of a looming warning crisis and reports that nearly 3.4 billion people will face water scarcity by 2025. As more people live in cities and our populations grow, our dependence on dwindling clean water supplies will change how we live and ultimately who lives and who dies. This photographic study on water, both on-going and with support from the United Nations, WaterAid, VSCO and others, will continue to track water issues across the globe and seek to examine our interaction with the most vital resource for life on Earth.
Mustafah Abdulaziz, born in New York City in 1986, is a documentary photographer based in Berlin, Germany. In 2010, he worked as the first contract photographer for The Wall Street Journal and in 2012 was named one of PDN’s 30 Emerging Photographers to Watch. He has undertaken projects for TIME, Newsweek, Le Monde, The New York Times, Monocle, and NPR. His prints are represented by Milk Gallery in New York City and his archive is represented by Ostkreuz Agency in Germany. Abdulaziz is a member of the MJR photo collective.
My proposal is to look at California through the prism of water, where an exceptional drought has exacerbated a complex relationship between dire need, water scarcity and the infrastructure and resources at work. I will seek sources of water, like Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the United States. Through the medium of aerial photography I will capture the scale of agricultural fields that make California the world’s sixth-largest economy. I will look at how water is moved, who gets too much and who too little, in order to show how water is determining our future. I will look at misuse in everyday life, to show what is taken for granted and turn my camera to the people and places who are at the forefront of responsible water management. This next chapter on California will build upon the photographic work I’ve pursued across the globe. What I began in West Africa by looking at the problems of water, sanitation and poor infrastructure will continue in my homeland as I examine how a place renowned for success and excess, beauty and potential, may be humbled by the challenge of scarcity and waste.