SAF offers African, Asian lensmen Vantage Point 11 to focus on world - GulfToday

SAF offers African, Asian lensmen Vantage Point 11 to focus on world

African artist

Mohamed Mahdy, from ‘Here, The Doors Don’t Know Me’, 2016–2023.

Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer

Vantage Point Sharjah (VPS), the annual photography exhibition by Sharjah Art Foundation (SAF), is returning for its 11th edition (Oct. 14 – Jan. 14, 2024).  Being hosted at Old Al Diwan Al Amiri in Al Hamriyah, Sharjah, it features four artists and one collective, “whose work challenges established notions of photographic practices.”

This year, VPS identifies and supports early-career photographers who were born in Africa and Asia, who are currently based there, or who are part of the diaspora. Chosen through an international open call that received more than 350 applications, the selected artists embody, SAF points out, diverse approaches but share overlapping tendencies — the pursuit of contemporary image-making techniques, the recontextualisation of found or inherited images and engagement with the visual afterlives of colonialist legacies.

Oumaima Abaraghe (b. 1999, Casablanca) uses collage techniques and digital manipulation to reconstruct Morocco’s fragmentary colonial archive, signalling its inherent fallibility. Yashna Kaul (b. 1995, Mumbai) unearths the secrets embedded in her family’s photo album and reveals how the framing of a moment can shape personal histories and collective memory. Through emotive storytelling, Mohamed Mahdy (b. 1996, Giza) documents the displacement of the fishing community of El Maks, Alexandria, and captures the generational impact of urban redevelopment policies.


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Questioning the aspirations of nation-state imagery, Postbox Ghana (Nana Ofosu Adjei (b. 1993, Accra), Courage Dzidula Kpodo (b. 1999, Kumasi) and Manuela Nebuloni (b. 1986, Milan), resituate popular postcard images of post-independence Ghana within the country’s contemporary urban landscape. Clea Rekhou (b. 1988, Paris) contrasts a series of soft-lit, intimate family portraits with narratives of generational violence, suggesting the complexity of human relationships. Works by these emerging artists will be displayed in two exhibition modes: independent presentations of the artists’ individual practices and a communal storytelling space that interweaves their combined practices.

Mahdy is a visual storyteller from Alexandria, Egypt. His work concentrates on the hidden and often unseen communities in Egypt, tackling diverse cultural and social issues relevant to the context in which he works. After graduation, he was awarded a scholarship and completed two diplomas at the Danish School for Media and Journalism (DMJX) in Arhus, Denmark. In 2018, he was named by The New York Times Lens Blog as one of 12 emerging photographers to watch. In 2021, he was selected as a Photography and Social Justice Fellow of the Magnum Foundation and in 2022, he was named by The Guardian as one of five emerging talents in photojournalism. He also won the 2022 Canon Student Development Programme.

African artist 2  Clea Rekhou, from ‘Monsieur’, 2019–2020.

Mahdy’s work has been exhibited worldwide, notably as part of the exhibition Take Me to the River (2021) at the Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, and in the Altonaer Museum, Hamburg, as part of the Hamburg Portfolio Review. He exhibited in France biennial at Institute du mode Arabe, Geopolis Belguim and at Photoville in New York. Even in her end-of-studies (graduation) project, Abaraghe immersed herself in the stories of the terrible famine of 1944, known as Am El Boune. More than the historical fact, she questioned the ambivalent status of the archive. In the form of collages, the young artist interwove fragments of testimonies gleaned from history books or newspapers of the time – to the point of making them unreadable. At its heart, the message pointed out the sometimes contradictory, often fragmented words, which emanated from collective memory. Critics called it “a very convincing seismography of memory.”

Kaul engages primarily with vernacular photography and found images; she employs a range of digital tools and analogue techniques to question the authenticity of photographs. Some of her work utilises the family album to examine the relationship between memory and myth-making through animation, collage and experimental bookmaking. She received her BFA in Photography and Imaging from NYU Tisch School of the Arts in 2018 and her work has been exhibited at India Art Fair (2023), Nowhere is Home at Photoink, New Delhi (2022), Betwixt and Between: Photography, Time and Place at Flower City Arts Center, Rochester (2018) and Family Photographs at Jamestown Arts Center, Rhode Island (2018).

Postbox Ghana is a collective that focuses on Ghana’s urban areas as well as the history (both colonial and postcolonial) and current dynamics since the country’s independence. Rekhou is a French-Algerian visual storyteller based in Algiers, Algeria. She grew up in a housing estate on the Paris outskirts and faced social challenges that now nourishes her work: it is her motive and the genesis of most of her projects. She started to self-learn photography in 2016; her projects broach topics related to overlooked social issues and history as well as identity questions that relate to her Algerian heritage.

VPS 11 also introduces a one-on-one professional mentoring programme. Participating artists will be paired with cultural practitioners or industry professionals of their choice, so they can improve their skills and take advantage of a learning experience led by experts in the field. Introduced in 2013 to cultivate public engagement with photography as an artistic medium, VPS is a platform that embraces multiple approaches to photography, from photojournalism and photo essays to experimental work, in both analogue and digital forms. Admission to VPS 11 is free, though advance registration is recommended at

SAF is an advocate, catalyst and producer of contemporary art in the emirate of Sharjah and the surrounding region, in dialogue with the international arts community. It works under the leadership of founder Hoor Al Qasimi, curator and artist.

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