The Wheel Loader Caterpillar

While Eid engages in the violence of the world around him through the production of art, it is with a heavily philosophical and questioning perspective. “Most Palestinians think Caterpillar tractors are death machines. I asked myself why they blamed this machine when, after all, it is the person who renders the machine good or bad. I like these tractors, how they move, their size. Sometimes we have to take these machines on the value of what they can do, not what they do,” Eid says of his works. “These are some of the questions we have to ask when doing this work.”

The tractor was built during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in 2010 when the heat, hunger, and thirst make it impossible to do much of anything. It was a long, strategic build explains Eid.

The Wheel Loader Caterpillar

“I drew sketches of this tractor on large rocks and on paper. I may have seen one once or twice in my life – mostly while they were being used to build the Israeli settlements around me. So a lot of how I built it came from the internet,” Eid says, noting that his little community of Um al-Khair isn’t allowed to utilize heavy machinery to build on their lands. “I thought carefully about how to build it carefully and correctly. There was a lot of research.”

This particular tractor is made from pieces representing different elements of his culture, his community, and the world around him.

“This tractor is made from iron pieces that I sawed by hand. I requested the iron scrap from somebody in my village, who told me I was crazy and could take the scraps,” he said. “It was difficult to cut the iron as my tools were not good enough. It was exhausting and I could I feel this tractor in my body and my soul.”

The tractor took a month to build because of the mechanical nature of the machine. “The most difficult part was making the plow that picks everything up. The wheels were also difficult to make.” Eid details how the collection of materials that others would characterize as garbage was seemingly given to him out of thin air. “I made them from foam board used to make the walls in the nearby Israeli settlement of Carmel. The foam board flew on the wind to Umm al-Khair’s wadi (valley) where I collected it for the wheels.”

Eid followed his templates he had hand-crafted with images he had looked up from the internet. “I cut the wheels according to a plastic circle and heated up iron rods to make holes. I used twisted wire to shape the form board and to make the grooves of the wheel,” Eid says with a smile. “When I find something I can use for my art, I am very happy, as if I found gold or something expensive. My art is my channel for coping with the hardships of life in the South Hebron Hills and under occupation.”

 

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