Fazal Sheikh and Terry Tempest Williams: The Moon is Behind Us



ISBN: 9783958298804 Category:

Fazal Sheikh, Terry Tempest Williams


This book is an intimate personal correspondence between two leading political artists at a time of crisis. In the summer of 2020, their collaboration suddenly halted by Covid-19, photographer Fazal Sheikh (born in 1965) and writer, educator and activist Terry Tempest Williams (born in 1955) found themselves 5,000 miles apart, Sheikh in Zurich, Switzerland, Tempest Williams in Castle Valley, Utah. Like so many others, they communicated across the days and nights by text and email, reflecting on the state of politics as the pandemic spread across the world.

Looking back over his work, Sheikh decided to make a gift for Tempest Williams as a gesture of friendship and respect in troubled times. He selected 30 images, one for each year of his life as an artist, corresponding to one complete cycle of the moon. Some weeks later, a package arrived in Zurich. Inside were 30 letters from Tempest Williams, each responding to a single image, written across 30 days, another lunar cycle.

Studying the images had led her to wider, more philosophical considerations of the ways they connected to contemporary events: climate change, the rise of Black Lives Matter, the advances of women and-the focus of her work with Sheikh-their alliance with Native Nations in the American southwest supporting Bear Ears National Monument and the protection of these sacred lands.

The spontaneous nature of the correspondence in the middle of the pandemic made it all the more immediate, and when images and words were placed together, both artists where surprised by the intimacy of what they created in isolation. They felt it could be an offering to others who shared their concerns and might find comfort in the exchanges. This book is the result of a friendship forged through art and their shared desire to collaborate on issues larger than themselves in a world broken and beautiful.

What can art tell us that facts cannot? – Terry Tempest Williams

Additional information

Weight 498 g
Dimensions 14.7 x 20.8 cm
Publisher name Steidl
Publication date 3 January 2022
Number of pages 192
Format Hardback
Dimensions 14.7 x 20.8 cm
Weight 498 g


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Fazal Sheikh is an artist and author of 15 monographs, the majority published by Steidl, and including A Sense of Common Ground, The Victor Weeps, Moksha, Ladli, Portraits and The Erasure Trilogy. His work has been widely exhibited at major institutions including Tate Modern, London; the Metropolitan Museum of Art and United Nations, New York; and the Mapfre Foundation, Madrid. Sheikh is a fellow of the MacArthur, Guggenheim and Fulbright Foundations, and artist-in-residence at the Princeton Environmental Institute.

Terry Tempest Williams is an American writer, educator, conservationist and activist. Her many books include Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place, Finding Beauty in a Broken World, When Women Were Birds, The Hour of Land and Erosion: Essays of Undoing. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker and the New York Times, as well as in many anthologies as a crucial voice for ecological consciousness and social change. She is a fellow of the Guggenheim Foundation, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and writer-in-residence at the Harvard Divinity School.