Lebanese photographer Elsie Haddad along with Egyptian photographers Mohamed Mahdy and Heba Khalifa took center stage during GPP Photo Week’s guided walk-through of the group exhibition “The Shortest Distance Between Us: Stories from the Arab Documentary Photography Program” on February 5th.
Launched at the opening of GPP Photo Week, and in collaboration with The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC), the exhibition features seven photographers from The Arab Documentary Photography program (ADPP) and displays some of the most enthralling photography projects from around the Arab world.
Curated by Jessica Murray of Al-liquindoi ADPP’s coordinator, in association with the Prince Claus Fund and Magnum Foundation, the exhibition uncovers a multitude of experimental styles of visual storytelling.
Focusing on concealed and obscured communities as well as cultural and social issues that engulf Egypt, documentary photographer and filmmaker Mohamed Mahdy was the first to discuss his work.
Entitled ‘Moon Dust’, the series discloses the immense health problems that engulf Wadi El Qamar, also known as Moon Valley, a suburban area in the west of Alexandria, Egypt. Home to 60,000 people, Moon Valley, is located near a Portland Cement factory, which is held responsible for producing dust and toxic waste leading to asthma, lung cancer, eye, ear, and throat infections, and chest sensitivities.
By documenting the impact of this toxic waste on the residents of the Moon Valley, Mahdy has created an awareness that many are fighting for.
Interested in individuals that deal with trauma, Elsie Haddad was the second photographer that opened up to the public. Dealing with topics related to transition and change, her series ‘Stranded: On Life After Imprisonment’ shadows inmates after their release from prison.
By taking a closer look into the lives of these ex-inmates and directing their fragile worlds, Haddad documents the many struggles these individuals are going through while attempting to reconstruct their lives.
An implicit crisis in a country where human rights codes are infringed, Haddad finds herself dealing with a society that is not ready to confront its problems.
Emphasizing on women and gender issues in Egypt, multimedia artist, photojournalist, and painter Heba Khalifa was the final photographer that discussed her work.
Growing up in a society that pressures girls into believing they are a liability and a burden Khalifa turns the camera towards herself and women who share the similar experiences of feeling entrapped in their skin.
Entitled ‘Homemade’, the series takes a somber and raw examination of predetermined expectations placed on women in Egypt. Ultimately creating a sense of liberation and acceptance, the women in the photographs have finally found a way to walk away, let go, and heal from their past experiences.
By bringing together such diverse and personal narratives, “The Shortest Distance Between Us: Stories from the Arab Documentary Photography Program” brings individuals together by reinforcing and building a circle of trust that is less exploitive, less violent and more respectful of individuals and the natural world.
The exhibition is on view until Saturday, February 9 at Concrete, Alserkal Avenue, Dubai.