Capturing the city

The Empty Quarter’s latest exhibition explores the definition-dodging nature of the urban environment, and the difficulties capturing it

Mehrdad Naraghi
Mehrdad Naraghi
Miyuki Okuyama
Miyuki Okuyama
Virgilio Ferreira
Virgilio Ferreira
Virgilio Ferreira
Virgilio Ferreira
Virgilio Ferreira
Virgilio Ferreira

Here at Time Out we spend our days chasing the city, trying to capture its erratic and numerous heartbeats. Yet The Empty Quarter’s new exhibition seems to claim that this feat is impossible. The three photographers featured in the show, hailing from Japan, Iran and Portugal, hunt for their idea of a city and attempt to capture what they call ‘the shimmering beast’ – and in general they find dark, echoic and lonely places.
That Shimmering Beast continues at The Empty Quarter until September 9.

Miyuki Okuyama, 37, Japan

Series: Safe Playground
What she’s saying: Instead of just capturing the cityscape, Okuyama creates her own: using self-built architectural models and a pinhole camera, she recreates the shady and obscure corners of society that are ignored day to day, but that weigh heavy on our collective subconscious. Instead of reflecting the city, she has created one that presents the universal feeling of discarded fears.

Mehrdad Naraghi, 32, Iran

Series: House
The artist on his work: ‘My approach to photography is to show the significance of human existence: the places I find most interesting and poignant are those that seem to have been left behind. I am inspired by paintings – in my photos, I strive to exemplify the qualities of light and colour that I appreciate in paintings. The sense of emptiness of a house whose occupants have departed is somehow striking for me. There is a profound feeling, somewhat strange, about the abandoned house. Most of the time there is a sad story behind it: forced immigration, need for money, grown children who have left, or even death.’

Virgilio Ferreira, 40, Portugal

Series: The Uncanny Places
The artist on his work: ‘Some of the images seem to relate to the obscure archive of our memories. But the urban street creates dialogues between opposite poles: magic and logic, consciousness and unconsciousness.’

What he’s saying: All of Virgilio’s works play with focus, usually by blurring it. This series, ‘Uncanny Places’, was captured in cities all over the world using two exposures from a static camera; there was no digital manipulation involved. This technique explores how there can be two, separate realities in one space –
a statement that’s very true of the urban environment.

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