Xposure 2021: What to expect at this year's Sharjah photography festival

The event will feature the works of more than 50 photographers from around the world

Zahra Mahmoud 2016 - 2020. By Muhammed Muheisen
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This year's Xposure International Photography Festival in Sharjah will take place from February 10 to February 13, exhibiting the works of 51 acclaimed photographers as part of its programme.

The photographic works presented in the festival, which is organised by the Sharjah Government Media Bureau, stretch across a broad range of styles and subjects, from wildlife to conceptual photography, and tackle social, political and environmental issues.

A series of portraits titled 'The Tobacconist' by Seagram Pearce, who captured his subject in a gentleman's store in Cape Town, South Africa. Courtesy Seagram Pearce

Among Xposure's list of photographers is Seagram Pearce, whose series The Tobacconist features portraits of a shopkeeper in Cape Town, South Africa.

He recalls walking past a gentleman's shop on the city's Shortmarket Street countless times, but never venturing inside. When he finally did, he met the tobacconist, an older man who had "never smoked in his life". The artist asked the subject to pose with a pipe for his photograph. The works are an extension of a portraiture project that Pearce has been working on.

Photographer Muhammed Muheisen will present his portraits of Zahra Mahmoud – one from 2016 and the other from 2020. The photographer met the young Syrian refugee in Jordan in 2015. "She was very sad, very quiet and the scars of war can be seen all over her tiny face," he says. One of the portraits earned the photographer Unicef Photo of the Year in 2017.

Muheisen, who has won the Pulitzer Prize twice in the Breaking News category, has visited Zahra and her family in their tented settlement in Jordan at least once a year since they met. The last time he saw Zahra in person was in February 2020, before the Covid-19 pandemic hit. In April 2020, he says he was able to contact her via video call.

Photographer David Newton took this picture of Lake Matheson in New Zealand in 2007. Courtesy David Newton

In David Newton’s photograph, the mountains around Lake Matheson in New Zealand are reflected in the tranquil water. Newton’s work spans landscape, sport, products and architecture.

Meanwhile, an image by Brian Hodges presents a snapshot of schooling in Gulu, Uganda. Taken in 2018, the photograph captures the moment a teacher's hand passes a piece of chalk to a student, framing another student standing in the background.

This series of works is part of Hodges’s efforts to raise awareness for the African Women Rising organisation, which provides education and micro-funding to girls and women in Uganda.

Taken in 2018, this image by Brian Hodges shows a student in Gulu, Uganda, who is being helped by the organisation African Women Rising. Courtesy Brian Hodges

Other photographers involved in this year's Xposure festival are Brent Stirton, whose documentary work looks at wildlife, conversation and the environment; Chris de Bode, who has collaborated with Save the Children Netherlands to cover the plight of Syrian refugees; and former photojournalist Juan Pablo Ramirez, whose recent project chronicles the lives of Iranian sailors residing by Dubai Creek.

Participating photographers living in the UAE include Abdulla Albuqaish, who focuses on cityscapes; advertising and fashion photographer Ashok Verma; and landscape photographer Mohammad Kamal.

Held at the Expo Centre Sharjah, the festival will also include seminars and talks in the auditorium held by the photographers. Organisers have said that seating will be distanced and the area will be sanitised after every talk.

Entry to Xposure is free, though visitors must register online before arriving. Attendance to the talks is also free.

More information can be found at xposure.ae