Reyad Abedin’s work titled In Search of Lost Tune I.
Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer
Sharjah Art Foundation (SAF) has announced the winners of its inaugural photography prize at the opening of Vantage Point Sharjah 9 (VPS9) in Al Hamriyah Studios. The Foundation’s annual photography exhibition is showcasing works selected through an international open call that received 500 submissions (Sept. 18 – Dec. 18). Presenting works by 53 photographers from 30 countries, the 2021 iteration of Vantage Point Sharjah features images in four categories — Conceptual, Experimental, Photojournalism and Documentary, and Staged Photography — highlighting the unique, fascinating and infinite possibilities of photography as a medium.
Through their lens, the photographers explore the world around them, drawing from personal experiences and narratives as well as cultural, political or environmental conditions. The winning photographers — Reyad Abedin, Isik Kaya, Devashish Gaur and Khadija El Abyad — one from each category, were selected by a jury consisting of Ammar Al Attar (artist), Sham Enbashi (photographer and architect), M’hammed Kilito (photographer) and Alia Al Shamsi (author and artist).
Speaking about Abedin, winner in the Photojournalism and Documentary Photography category, Al Shamsi said: “Abedin’s body of work transmutes a level of peacefulness and aesthetic beauty that not only captures the attention of the viewer, but engages him/her to lose him/herself within the image that without words narrates a story.” “Gaur was often told that he shared the same character as his grandfather. He imbues his photographic series with this connection, depicting stories from his grandfather and addresses complex subjects like existence, balance and intimacy with loved ones lost,” said Al Attar, while commenting about Devashish Gaur, the winner in the Experimental Photography category.
Kilito said this about Işık Kaya, winner in the Conceptual Photography category: “Second Nature is an original project with a sophisticated visual language, whose technical execution is exemplary. It stimulates and connects with the viewer’s intellect and emotions, inviting us to stop, engage, and want to discover more about the subject at hand.” “Successful works of staged photography are the ones that allow room for the naturally existing and the uncontrollable to exist simultaneously with the staged acts or compositions, while still conveying a coherent whole. I believe El Abyad achieved that successfully,” Enbashi said, talking about the winner in the Staged Photography category.
Since its launch in 2013, Vantage Point Sharjah has focused on a variety of themes, including ‘Self-Portraiture’, ‘Performance’ and ‘Architecture and Urban Landscape’.
The wide range of work presented in this year’s exhibition showcases the unique and limitless possibilities of photography as a medium. Some works reveal intimate portraits of family life and memories, while others reflect on the often-troubled history and politics of their homeland. Together, the nearly 200 images on view present an evocative and inspiring insight into the life and concerns of individuals from around the world. Exhibiting photographers include (Conceptual Photography): Maha Alasaker, Kathy Anne Lim, Hayley Millar Baker, Aline Deschamps, Farheen Fatima, Gabriel Gauffre, Majid Hojati, Alaa Jaafar, Işık Kaya, Wendy Marijnissen, Sara Sallam, Hiro Tanaka and Han Shun Zhou. Experimental Photography: Sarah Al Ansary, Gabi Kaiser, Carolina Dutca and Valentin Sidorenko, Devashish Gaur, Sukanya Ghosh, Brian Kerrigan, Barbel Mollmann, Ziad Naitaddi, Yudha Kusuma Putera, Tamara Saade, Mahmoud Talaat and Alexander Walmsley.
Photojournalism and Documentary Photography: Reyad Abedin, Taha Ahmad, Nicola Chilton, Akash Joshi, Roger Moukarzel, Fajar Riyanto, Kristina Sergeeva, Javed Sultan and Jerzy Wierzbicki. Staged Photography: Khadija El Abyad, Dima Assad, Fatima Butt, Divya Cowasji, Soheila Esmaeili, Wiame Haddad, Babak Haghi, Khoula Hamad, Barry Iverson, Januario Jano, Jennifer Kisney, Sudip Maiti, Lakin Ogunbanwo, Martin T Raggio, Anja Ronacher, Oskar Schmidt, Buhlebezwe Siwani, Sandeep TK and Rob Voerman.
About the jury: A self-taught photographer and mixed media artist, Al Attar goes beyond documentation to engage with issues impacting the social fabric of the United Arab Emirates.
Enbashi (b. 1988) is a Syrian photographer and architect who grew up in Dubai and now lives in Amsterdam. Graduated with Bachelors of Architecture and Design at the American University of Sharjah 2012, she worked as a full time architect in various firms. She was a fellow in 2016 at the Salama bint Hamdan Emerging Artists Fellowship (SEAF) in Abu Dhabi, in partnership with the Rhode Island School of Design.
Enbashi works with the medium of photography to question the relation between our objective and subjective reality; the relationship between the world out there and our internal experience of it.
Kilito is an independent Moroccan photographer based in Rabat, Morocco. He is represented internationally by Emergeast (Dubai), Loft Art Gallery (Casablanca) and Native Agency (Amsterdam). As photographer and visual storyteller, he consistently focuses on capturing narratives that are embedded in understanding the relationship between his collaborators and their environments, by covering issues related to cultural identity, the sociology of work and the human condition.
Al Shamsi is an Emirati-Italian author, poet and photographer. In 2011, she created an ongoing exhibit titled Archive 80, which aimed to bridge cultures through 80s nostalgia. She has published the children’s books Alayah and You Are Made of Stars, and is also the creative talent behind Night and Day, one of the UAE’s first three silent books published in 2018. She has also released a poetry book titled The Ocean Sees Through My Soul, which was launched at Sharjah International Book Fair in 2020.
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