In the eastern Sahara desert bordering the Red Sea stands Desert Breath, a stunning land-art project comprised of perfectly-formed cones and a glistening pool of water. Nestled between the hills on the Egyptian desert floor, this site-specific installation was the work of D.A.ST. Arteam, made up of Danae Stratou (installation artist), Alexandra Stratou (industrial designer and architect), and Stella Constantindies (architect). They spent from 1995 to 1997 working on Desert Breath, relocating 8,000 square meters of sand to create what we see here. The curves of the two interlocking spirals are dotted with cones that create both positive and negative shapes, as some point up towards the sky while others extend below the surface. Everything radiates from its center, a vessel of water filled rim to rim. All told, this massive and impressive project covers 100,000 square meters (about 1 million square feet).
The terrain was the the driving force behind Desert Breath, and the three women formed D.A.ST. Arteam just for the execution of this project. Danae Stratou explains, “In our mind’s eye the desert was a place where one experiences infinity. We were addressing the desert as a state of mind, a landscape of the mind.” You can view the installation in more than one way. From above, it forms a complete visual image where we can marvel at its design an execution. Or, if we’re lucky enough to experience it from the ground, it is a physical experience as you walk the pathway and come face to face with the larger-than-life cones.
Although it’s been 17 years since the project’s completion, Desert Breath still remains. Just like the conical sands that form when you turn over an hourglass, it too illustrates the passage of time, as wind and other elements reintroduce it to the surrounding landscape.