GPP Photo Week: A focus on evolution of 21st century photography

Photo Week, which this year moves to Alserkal Avenue from its previous home at Knowledge Village, is at its heart about education, with seminars and workshops led by some of the world’s leading photographers in several genres.

Photographer Thomas Dworzak’s Pokemon Go!, which was shot in Paris. Courtesy Thomas Dworzak / Magnum Photos
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

From photographer Thomas Dworzak's series that explores the bizarre reality of the videogame Pokemon Go, to Stacey Baker's collection of photographs of women's legs in New York that went viral after she posted them on Instagram, an exhibition at Gulf Photo Plus shines the spotlight on 21st century photography and how it has evolved.

It also includes drone photography of refugees flooding across borders in Europe, underwater images, and a moving series by Lebanese photographer Natalie Naccache that follows a group of displaced Syrians as they cope with the challenges of life away from their homeland.

Dworzak’s image is perhaps the most pertinent, showing as it does a Pokemon character in front of the Bataclan theatre in the 11th arrondissement of Paris, one of the targets of the terrorist attacks on November 13, 2015.

“We want to show how photographers are embracing and absorbing modern technology, and we hope that people leave with the notion that photography is more than just a single image,” says GPP co-director Mohamed Somji.

The exhibition – titled Take the Shot – has been curated by the team at the gallery to mark Photo Week, which begins on Friday (February 10).

It also features images by Emirati Ammar Al Attar, and Maggie Steber, an American photographer and journalist who is a former director of photography for the Miami Herald, and a contributor to international magazines, including Newsweek and the New York Times Magazine.

Photo Week, which this year moves to Alserkal Avenue from its previous home at Knowledge Village, is at its heart about education, with seminars and workshops led by some of the world’s leading photographers in several genres.

Participants can sign up for workshops in food photography, street photography, portraiture and many other subjects. They can also learn about lighting during the day and at night, as well as how to digitally touch up and alter images. It is a comprehensive schedule, augmented by several top-quality exhibitions.

GPP will also host an exhibition of the Humane series by Brazilian photographer Angélica Dass, which features portraits that match the skin tones of people with Pantone colours – used in printing and other industries – to illustrate diversity.

Selected images from the Sony World Photography Awards, the world’s largest photography competition, will also be on display. Some have never been shown anywhere before, and this is a real coup for the region.

Other galleries in Alserkal Avenue are also getting involved. The Third Line, for example, will show work by Hassan Hajjaj, who is well known for capturing portraits of people from his native Morocco and portraying them steeped in western and contemporary culture. His show includes My Rockstars, from 2012, an eclectic group of nine musicians from around the world.

On Friday, Hajjaj's film Karima, A Day in the Life of a Henna Girl (2015) will be screened, followed by an appearance by the artist and Karima, in conversation with Hind Mezaina.

Somji says GPP Photo Week as a whole is about underlining the importance of photography as art, and helping it to mature in the region.

“At GPP, we are more than a gallery, we are a hub and a resource for photographers,” he says.

“We plough back a lot of our profit towards an active and vibrant art programme, because we feel photography is still in its infancy and there is a real need to have a much more nuanced and informed view of photography, far beyond its simple aesthetic values.

“Photo Week is about elevating the discourse and engaging people on many levels to think about photography as a medium of expression.”

• GPP Photo Week begins on Friday (February 10) and runs until February 17. www.gulfphotoplus.com

aseaman@thenational.ae