At a time when photography as an artistic medium is undergoing continual changes and challenges, a new gallery in Dubai focuses specifically on the medium. Having expanded and strained under the onset of digital photography and the smart phone camera boom, the art form is now faced with the proliferation of the image, a flood of low-grade images in places once reserved for those of the highest quality amongst other challenges.
We speak to the director of East Wing, Elie Domit about his interest in and dedication to photography, and the show ‘Ramadam in Yemen’, a series of one-off prints taken in the early 90s around the mountain villages of Yemen by Australian photographer Max Pam, decorated with diary notes scribbled on the sides of these very personal postcards.
Like many countries in the region, opiates are a problem in Yemen today and even in the 90s when the images were taken. Many of the diary notes scribbled on the sides of these very personal postcards speak of the access to and problem of qat (khat) an addiction which reached as far as the Yemeni, Somali and other communities in London, which acts like amphetamine, giving the chewers a massive downer laced with irritability and possibly volatile behaviour on the down.
“What could I say about Yemen that did it justice. I tried in my journals to work it honestly… that hot, spare and beautiful Ramadan… The faithful waiting for the moment. The cannon booms from the mosque in the afterglow of the day. KABOOMMMM and the frenzy of quat buying, tea drinking and food eating begins at the suqs and squares and oases and towns all over the country. Everyone happy, elated, laughing and joking, sitting down together as one nation… People always wanted me to share and be a part of their Ramadan, their community, their Yemen…That unforgettable Ramadan month. An experience freely given to me by the generosity of the Yemeni people.” Max Pam.
Max Pam also released a book of the images to go with the exhibition, limited to 1000 copies.
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