x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Star Wars fantasy photographer Cédric Delsaux keen to return to Dubai

Cédric Delsaux, the French photographer whose Dark Lens project makes Dubai a Star Wars 'location', might return one day to extend and update the work.

The Hyperdrive Shop, part of Cédric Delsaux’s Star Wars-themed exhibition, The Dark Lens – The Dubai Invasion.
The Hyperdrive Shop, part of Cédric Delsaux’s Star Wars-themed exhibition, The Dark Lens – The Dubai Invasion.

Dubai looks set to have its own version of Return of the Jedi, as the French photographer Cédric Delsaux has disclosed that he hopes to shoot more of his remarkable Star Wars-themed pictures in the city.

"It is very likely I'll come back to Dubai and find new locations for new images," says Delsaux.

The original photographs, which feature characters and hardware from the science-fiction blockbusters set against Dubai backdrops, caused a sensation when they first went on show in 2009. The exhibition, called The Dark Lens - The Dubai Invasion, was staged at the Empty Quarter gallery at the Dubai International Financial Centre, and Star Wars fans around the world were soon blogging enthusiastically about the pictures.

They were displayed in London last month as part of the Shubbak Festival of Contemporary Arab Culture and are also to be featured in a forthcoming book, selections from which were published by The National in Oasis on July 6.

Delsaux managed to persuade the reclusive Star Wars creator George Lucas to write the foreword to Dark Lens, due out from the French publisher Éditions Xavier Barral in October.

The Dubai photos were the third chapter of the Dark Lens project - the first two placed Star Wars favourites against backdrops in France.

"The series is ongoing, but at a rather slow pace," says Delsaux. "Dark Lens is not my sole series, although I always feel very proud of what it has become. I am currently working on four new series, completely different from the Dark Lens, I wish to give them the attention they deserve.

"Without defining it completely, Dark Lens is an important part of my work and will evolve with the dimensions brought in by these new projects. The next chapter will encompass these future changes."

Elie Domit is the creative partner at Empty Quarter Gallery, which commissioned the original Dubai series shot in 2008. He tried to bring Delsaux back to the city to work on new pictures earlier this year, but was frustrated by restrictions on shooting.

"Delsaux was saying, 'what kind of location can we do it at?' because locations are very important for this kind of thing," says Domit. "He wanted to be able to go to places like Jebel Ali Free Zone, areas that are very restricted."

The original images were shown in London from July 18-23 as part of Dubai Futures, Dubai's contribution to Shubbak. "I am really excited about showing my work in London," says Delsaux. "The series has already been on a world tour via the internet; it is now on a print tour with the added impact of the original 100x133cm format."

Many of the building sites and other locations Delsaux used have changed beyond recognition in the years since he photographed them, giving the series the added quality of a period piece as well as adding an extra layer of fantasy.

"Photography has held a very concrete and quasi-undeniable relationship with time," he says. "In my work, nothing is more uncertain. Time seems suspended, without any stable bearings. I therefore usually look for locations that aren't set in controllable environments, such as abandoned, decomposing or, the complete opposite, building sites.

"Dubai embodies this perpetual motion and this temporal swerving marvellously. Here, the series acquires all its poetic power since, by a strange turn of events, the only constant verifiable reality is no longer Dubai's landscape but well and truly the characters of the Star Wars mythology."