x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Vantage Point Sharjah was an open call for photographs of the emirate of Sharjah taken from across its length and breadth. Now the results are up on show in the new Sharjah Art Foundation spaces.

A photo exhibit showcases points throughout Sharjah. Courtesy Vantage Point
A photo exhibit showcases points throughout Sharjah. Courtesy Vantage Point

Vantage Point Sharjah was an open call for photographs of the emirate of Sharjah taken from across its length and breadth. Now, the results are up on show in the new Sharjah Art Foundation spaces.

Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi travels all over the world at an almost relentless pace in her multifaceted work as the president of the Sharjah Art Foundation but home is never far from her heart.

It was for this reason that, in May, she decided to open the doors to the public to submit their photographic visions of her home in a first-of-its-kind imitative called Vantage Point Sharjah.

“There are so many people living here and a huge interest in photography, so I thought it would be an interesting way to document it and to show the scope of the talent we have here,” she says.

Open call

From the end of May until the beginning of July, the Sharjah Art Foundation – the umbrella organisation that oversees the Sharjah Biennial and year-round community and cultural activities – welcomed entries from anyone and everyone and Sheikha Hoor began the process of selecting the best for “a carefully curated” exhibition.

“We really wanted to show the diversity of Sharjah,” she explains, “and to present a wide range of individual responses to the places, people and moments that capture the city as well as in the central and eastern regions of the emirate.”

The results

From beaches that could be in the Indian Ocean to the strange symmetry that sometimes emerges in industrial urban environments and a few powerful images of the Arabian bull fighting phenomena that seems to be unique to the Northern Emirates of the UAE, the images are nothing if they are not varied.

There is also a striking view of the Russian Church by night which, in just a single image, captures the plethora of cultures that inhabit the cultural capital of the UAE.

“I wanted to show things that you really wouldn’t expect in Sharjah,” Sheikha Hoor continues. “And there are some really beautiful images here.”

The participants

Some names next to the photographs are ones that you might expect to see in a photography exhibition in Sharjah.

Ammar Al Attar, an Emirati who has made a name for himself at a variety of exhibitions, took some strong images of old abandoned cars, and Sean Blake, an American who has been photographing a red chair at locations all over the UAE to raise awareness about bone marrow donors, was showing his work alongside the actual red chair. But there were some surprise entries, too, such as Diya Mazumdar, a 9-year-old girl whose photograph of a lone woman on the beach in front of Sharjah’s skyline showed great promise for one so young.

The exhibition

All selected images will be on display in the Sharjah Art Foundation Art Spaces in Al Mureijah in the Sharjah Heritage Area for two months. Although the open call was not a competition and there will be no winners, the platform of having their works shown in such a prominent public arena will no doubt boost the careers of the entrants.

At the opening reception, Amal, a film by Nujoom Alghanem, was screened in the outdoor cinema area and reaction to the images was strong.

Vantage Point Sharjah will run until December 7 in Building GH, SAF Spaces, Al Mureijah, Sharjah Heritage Area

aseaman@thenational.ae