Gulf Photo Plus 2015

Dubai gallery captures everyday life in its latest exhibition

Gulf Photo Plus captures everyday life in its latest exhibition.

Gulf Photo Plus (GPP), an organisation dedicated to furthering photography through education, exhibitions and events has collaborated with Everyday Middle East (@everydaymiddleeast) – an Instagram feed featuring mobile phone images by 25 professional photographers in the MENA region. The two are exhibiting a collection of images posted to @everydaymiddleeast by its contributors, who are redefining the visual representation of the region through social media.

Founded in March this year, Everyday Middle East has attracted more than 46,000 followers on Instagram and posted 520 mobile phone photos in the past eight months. ‘The group’s aim is to create a space for photojournalists to publish ‘everyday’ images from across the region. It is a way to push back against the Western mainstream media’s representation of the Middle East and North Africa,’ says Lindsay Mackenzie, founder of Everyday Middle East.

‘As working photographers, we’re often assigned to take images of the most extreme people or circumstances, but we rarely have a chance to publish day-to-day images. So the Instagram feed – and exhibitions like this one – are a way to show more than just the worst case scenarios and more than just the stereotypes. It’s a way to show the unexpected, the mundane.’

Everyday Middle East is part of the network Everyday Projects, which also includes Everyday Africa, Everyday Asia and Everyday USA. The projects cross-publish with each other and are currently collaborating to create a non-profit organisation. ‘I think that new forms of social media such as Instagram are great platforms that we can use to reach an audience that we might not otherwise reach. They create interesting opportunities for collaboration – like with this project. I’ve never met many of our contributors, but we’ve still been able to establish the project and work together as a group,’ says Lindsay.

The idea of ‘everyday’ images can mean different things to the different contributors. ‘I think it is just as important to document our commonalities as our differences. Images that are representative of what we are trying to do with this project are those that viewers can relate to, for example a group of friends camping near a lake, commuters looking bored on the metro or a bride and groom taking wedding photos. These are the kinds of situations you could find almost anywhere in the world, Lindsay says that the group also tries to include images that show a surprising or unexpected side of the region, such as polo players in Cairo or an art gallery opening in Dubai, as well as those that show a softer or more personal side of everyday life, such as a photo of two men in a park looking after their young children.’

The exhibition will showcase 90 images from more than 500 photos from the Everyday Middle East series. ‘They are beautiful and engaging images that show a side of life we almost never put on display in a gallery. I also think it’s an interesting exhibition because we’re only showing images made with mobile phones, so it will be inspiring for anyone who takes such pictures or uses Instagram,’ Lindsay adds. Contributors to the exhibition include some of the most well-known and relevant photographers working in the region, including Laura Boushnak, Ahmad Mousa, Hanif Shoaei, Iman Al Dabbagh, Tamara Abdul Hadi, Mohamed Somji and Samuel Aranda. But you get to see their unedited mobile phone snaps as opposed to a single story or subject that is organised into a predetermined narrative.

All 25 contributors are a mixture of expats and citizens including members of Getty Images, Panos Pictures and Rawiya Collective. They have won multiple World Press Photo awards, among others, and are regular contributors to the world’s leading news publications including The New York Times, New Yorker, National Geographic and more. Turning the ordinary into something evocative, Everyday Middle East provides the opportunity to look beyond the headlines made by some of the region’s most respected and talented photographers. Don’t miss it.
Free. Open Sun-Wed 10am-7pm, Thu and Sat 10am-6pm, closed Friday. Until February 26. Gulf Photo Plus, Alserkal Avenue, Al Quoz, www.gulfphotoplus.com (04 380 8545).

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