x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Framing Dubai one picture at a time

A permanent exhibition was unveiled yesterday at the US consulate.

Artist Roberto Lopardo pose for a portrait beside his work, a photo montage based on a 24-hr walking tour of Dubai, at Cuadro art gallery in DIFC. Jaime Puebla / The National
Artist Roberto Lopardo pose for a portrait beside his work, a photo montage based on a 24-hr walking tour of Dubai, at Cuadro art gallery in DIFC. Jaime Puebla / The National

DUBAI // Images of the city captured by 10 young Emirati photographers will be displayed in a permanent collection at the new US consulate set to open this year, an official said at a dedication ceremony yesterday.

Alongside their display will be a montage of 1,440 images taken by the American photographer Roberto Lopaldo during a 24-hour walking tour he took from Media City to Dubai Creek.

The images showed "a more personal side of Dubai which isn't so obvious", said Hyun Sim, a representative from the consulate. The photographs of Mr Lopaldo, a professor at the American University in Dubai, ranged from a mosque brightly lit before dawn, to a sandy construction site, to his teacup in a cafe where he stopped to rest.

He snapped one photo per minute as he trekked north, he said, with little in mind but to look beyond the "fantastic plastic" that many associate with Dubai and instead appreciate the "in-between" parts.

The Emirati artists - students and others who participated in a workshop led by Mr Lopaldo - also zoomed in on the less-hyped corners of Dubai.

Thani al Shafar, a 25-year-old software entrepreneur, took stark black-and-white photographs in Al Quoz industrial area. "Most people don't look at it in an artistic way," he said. "It's beautiful ... it's more organic."

His images contrasted with the vivid and colourful "City Reflection" collection of images taken at the souq in Deira by Ammar al Attar, a 30-year-old Etisalat salesman.

He took night-time photos of store windows that reflected the busy streets and shops behind him. One showed a crowded textile shop with bright fabric piled up.

"I wanted to show the dynamic of Dubai," he said. "From morning till night you see people trading there."

Shereena Lootah, a senior at American University in Dubai, forced herself to move out of her comfort zone to document the little-known subculture of motorcycle gangs across the UAE. From Abu Dhabi to Sharjah, she rode on the backs of bikes speeding at 120kph with groups like the Dark Wolves and Desert Warriors. Many of these groups only accept new members after "hazing" them, as in fraternity-type initiations, she said, but they welcomed her right away.

Other montages featured Emirati family gatherings, Emirati bedrooms, abayas, doors and puddles in Hatta.

The new US consulate will be located near the Dubai Creek.

chuang@thenational.ae