Gulf Photo Plus celebrates analogue photography with Chemistry of Feeling - GulfToday

Gulf Photo Plus celebrates analogue photography with Chemistry of Feeling

gulf art 2

Broken Palm by Sara Naim.

Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer

Gulf Photo Plus (GPP) has opened Chemistry of Feeling, its 2021 Community Exhibition which celebrates analogue photography. On view from July 12, it is the result of a global open call, which attracted nearly 800 submissions from over 50 countries, across five continents.

“With everything at a precarious standstill, the world is no longer anchored to the cog-and-wheel 24-hour cycle of work and commercial imperatives,” says Mohamed Somji, GPP Director. “Photographers channeled a sense of precarity, observed moments of quiet solitude interspersed with eruptions of global upheaval, whether mediated through screens, or experienced within the proximity of one’s own neighbourhood, to explore analogue’s creative potential in the digital age as a kind of nostrum to the future’s barreling uncertainties, and perhaps even to take comfort in its romanticised reputation as a nostalgic relic of a more ‘certain’ past.”


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Finding connections between what has been a tough year on human relationships and photography, Chemistry of Feeling presents moments of heightened feeling, slowed pace, unravelling personal and political revolutions and candescent personal storytelling in film format.

As the largest community exhibition to take place at GPP, the gallery space is being used in its entirety to accommodate almost 100 images from around the world. “Narrowing the photo submissions was a very meticulous and slow process as our open call committee went through a blind selection process, with two cycles of thorough consideration for what had been submitted to us by so many talented and promising photographers based internationally,” Somji adds. “Though the show features the work of well-known photographers in the region, for many, this will be their first time displaying work in an exhibition. We are also showcasing work by the kids from Sirkhane Darkroom, whose film photography will also be exhibited as part of our special collaboration with the NGO.”

gulf art 1 Hicham by M’hammed Kilito.

Aiming to diversify representation of analog photography in the region, GPP is realising the exhibition in partnership with regional analogue communities The Darkroom Cairo and Darkroom Amman, who are taking part in Chemistry of Feeling, as well as Sirkhane Darkroom, whose mission is to provide refugee children residing in Turkey more cultural opportunities, and access to creative and visual education through photography. Additionally, a number of Arabic language talks were announced following the opening of the exhibition, in which the general Arabic-speaking public joined. GPP is also continuing to support analogue photographers through educational programmes and other resources. At the GPP Shooting & Developing workshop, analogue lovers learnt how to shoot and affordably develop black and white film (the event took place on July 30).

GPP’s community also has access to the UAE’s largest selection of film as well as high quality scanning and developing services, with both local and international film labs.

GPP is one of Dubai’s leading centres for photography, a community organisation cultivating visual practices and cultural production locally in the UAE, and internationally across the wider MENASA region. It hosts exhibitions, educational workshops, art programmes, community events, state-of-the-art printing services and specialised resources. Providing opportunities for emerging talent and the wider community, it invites people to partake in free artist talks, seminars, panel events, portfolio reviews, screenings, photo walks and more.

GPP also organises the region’s longest-running international photography event, GPP Photo Week, and SlideFest evenings, where emerging artists can share projects and find further inspiration. Darkroom Amman is a project that aims to revive the craft of analogue photography. The project specialises in manual photo processing services — film development and darkroom photo enlargement — and extends the culture of using darkroom as a place for creating visual content, in addition to experimenting with alternative photographic techniques and offering its space to host artworks of Jordanian and regional artists.

One of Darkroom Amman’s interests is the visual archive of the region and collaborating with other institutes and artists who work in the creative industry.  Sikhane Darkroom ı̇s a mobile photography project under Her Yerde Sanat — Sirkhane, established in 2017 for vulnerable and under-privileged children residing in the south east of turkey, a few kilometres away from the Syrian border. In the darkroom, children learn to develop a visual idea and to tell a story through photography, while maintaining the originality of their vision. It is a truth universally acknowledged that storytelling and the art of photography combined can generate a strong form of education and go a long way to heal children who have witnessed violence, poverty and war.Photography as an art form also embodies and develops numerous skills in children, from sparking creativity to the technical aspect of an art such as developing photos.

The Darkroom Cairo is an analogue photography hub located in Downtown in the heart of Cairo. It was founded by Mohamed Abdelwahab and Omar Magdy in 2017, and has been offering its services and workshops to the ever-growing analog photography community in Egypt. It offers many analog photography needs in one place: developing, scanning, analog cameras and films and also holds informative workshops periodically about things such as developing, printing and photography alternative techniques — all done with a passionate love for analogue photography and a vision to keep it alive while continuously informing and broadening interest in it in the community.

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