Amani Al Shaali: emerging talent
This week I met a young girl from Ajman with an unassuming talent. Amani Al Shaali is only 22 but she takes artistic photographs with a maturity beyond her years. Although she was born and raised under the perpetually blue skies of the UAE, all her images portray storm clouds and turbulent weather in a kind of dark romanticism reminiscent of 19th century tragic novels.
It is her way of expressing a pathetic fallacy; the artist herself suffered from depression and found photography a way of dealing with that.
This weekend, she is opening her first solo show at Pro Art Gallery in Dubai
Here I asked her to explain some of her photographs to give us an insight into her thinking:
Q: Tell us about Naïve, the image full of falling knives?
A: Naïve tells the story of a girl who is pure but has been stricken by the pain caused by the ones closest to her. Her blindfold implies that she’s too blind to see what’s right in front of (or above) her - a rain of knives. Despite everything that has happened to her, she is still standing strong.
Q: What was your inspiration behind making this image?
A: When I came up with this, I was doing an inspiration exercise where I’d stare at any object and think of all the words that remind me of it, whatever crossed my mind. I was in the kitchen at the time and I saw a knife and wanted to challenge myself to do something based on that. The words that came into my head were: “pain, hurt, stab, back-stab”. And I just built everything around that. A challenge I had was that I couldn’t get the top half of the girl and her hands in one shot, so I combined two different pictures – one with her head and hair movement, the second for the hand pose.
Q: How about An Infinity of Passion? Is that a more positive image?
A: Yes. This piece represents how I feel about photography and life. Once I discovered what my passion really is, I felt infinite. I know this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. So I made the flowing materials of her dress resemble the sign of infinity.
Q: Many of your pieces depict women wearing flowing robes and I think they are really beautiful. Can you please describe what you were feeling when you made the piece entitled Across The Abyss?
A: This piece is one of the more personal pieces as it represents the struggle of trudging on when the road ahead isn’t exactly clear, while being guided by faith. Don’t look back and don’t look down, believe that you will make it, and you will.
Q: What About Us? strikes me as quite different from the rest of your images, perhaps because it contains many subjects. I also think it is haunting. Were you intending that to be the reaction of the viewer?
A: What About Us? is a mixture of the loss of identity, the fear of blending in, and also of being forgotten. It represents people who feel lost, but are also carbon copies of each other. This was shot in two separate locations; the background and clouds were shot in Fujairah and the girl, whose image I have repeated several times was shot in Ajman.
* Amani Al Shaali’s exhibition opens tomorrow at 7.30pm at Pro Art Gallery in Jumeirah, Dubai. To find out more about Amani’s work read her blog here
Updated: June 13, 2014 04:00 AM