UAE Portrait of a Nation: Dubai Mall show a dream come true for videographer
DUBAI // Having your work on display for thousands of people to see each day is a dream for any artist, not least one who discovered his talents only two years ago.
Aqib Anwar is one of three video artists and photographers whose work is on show at the Dubai Mall as part of the 9 Hijri cultural display taking place during Ramadan.
On show are eight photos of people and nature shot in Dubai and Morocco along with videos including a time lapse of fog creeping its way across Dubai’s skyscrapers, drone footage of Hatta mountains and a flock of pink flamingos and black swans flying over Al Qudra lakes.
“A lot of people were surprised to see these videos were shot in the UAE, especially the drone footage over Hatta,” says Anwar. “It’s all quite dramatic and melancholic, which is an underlying theme to my work.”
Anwar 27, from India, found his talent for photography after joining an Instagram group in 2015 and taking shots of Dubai Creek and old Dubai.
“It was a very fulfilling experience,” says Anwar.
His images of deserts and landscapes, often shot from the roofs of skyscrapers, were posted on the photo sharing app under @gibsterg and have been reposted by popular accounts including beautifuldestinations, hypebeast, mydubai, moodygrams, visitdubai and visitjordan.
“It was good, but I knew it wasn’t going to get me jobs,” he says. “I realised I had to stay away from the rooftops and began to focus on something else I loved: watching people’s emotions. I love to watch what people are doing, watch their faces and wonder what they’re thinking, how they’re feeling, trying to capture moments that you don’t really see in photographs much. So I started focusing on portraits, people, and fashion, as I always loved the drama that comes with fashion photography. I’m also still very business minded so I wanted to create work that people can use.”
One of his videos featured in the Dubai Mall shows an old man falling at a train station in India, captured by chance as Anwar was on a train. Within seconds, several people come rushing to the man’s aid. This scene encapsulates the young photographer’s focus.
“My first instinct was to help the man but when I saw people instantly help him, I continued filming,” he says.
Last year Anwar, who learnt to edit in his spare time and would work on his photography and videos at weekends, decided to quit his job of selling products to supermarkets and throw himself into his passion.
“In our society and culture, we are told to be businesspeople, doctors, lawyers, not photographers or creatives.”
Anwar says having so many people see his work at Dubai Mall each day is a great thrill.
“I can’t quite say it’s a dream come true because I wasn’t ready to dream this yet. It was my goal to have my photographs displayed in a gallery, or just about any space, at some point this year. Now have both my pictures and videos, displayed in one of the largest malls in the world, it’s unreal,” he says.
See his work and the rest of the 9 Hijri display here.