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Photographing the Strange Normalcy of Israel’s Ubiquitous Bomb Shelters

public bomb shelter, ladders on wall (Photo: Oren Nahshon)

In Adam Reynold’s Architecture of an Existential Threat, he’s taken many interesting photos of Israel’s bomb shelters, a project that took him nearly three years to complete. His photos show us how these shelters have become part of daily life in Israel. Find his photos here.

Between 2013 and 2015, American photographer Adam Reynolds documented Israel’s ubiquitous bomb shelters. As he explains in his new monograph Architecture of an Existential Threat, out now from Edition Lammerhuber, “Israelis are required to have access to a bomb shelter and rooms that can be sealed off in the event of a chemical weapons attack.” Due to this law, there are “approximately one million bomb shelters, both public and private, found throughout Israel and the Occupied Territories.”

Like the Cold War missile silos of the United States, or the bunkers that popped up all over Albania during the reign of Enver Hoxha, these shelters are designed for a speculative apocalypse. Since its formation in 1948, Israel has been in an ongoing conflict. Still the longterm, Earth-shattering war that these shelters foretell has yet to arrive. As a large number of the bunkers are mamad, or mass-produced safe rooms attached to homes, they are often transformed into domestic space. One of Reynolds’s images shows a child’s bedroom, stickers dotting its reinforced concrete and a dreamcatcher dangling from the air vent.

See Reynold’s bomb shelter photos here.

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