I lived in Algeria from 1964-1966, and have brooded ever since over the horror of what happened there–the horror that continues to shape the present for us all. In the winter of 64-65, my then-husband and I hitchhiked from Constantine- in the north- to the southern oases of Biskra, Touggourt, and Ouargla, where we were picked up by a truck driver who had been tortured for weeks with live electric wire. The burns had left a kind of indigo script at the corners of his nostrils, his mouth and eyes, and in the delicate hollows beneath his ears. He told us that throughout his ordeal, he had refused to speak. And that now it pleased him to eat and sleep “in his own time.” He was carrying baryte- a kind of barium used in the making of cement- to an American oil rig deep in the desert, at an unnamed place between Hassi Ben Harrane and Temassin. In the middle of the night, he left the road to navigate by the stars. I recall that the lights from the rig became visible hours before we reached it and that no oil had been found. They were digging in six hundred meters of salt.
- Rikki Ducornet, 2014