Humorously and with a bold but subtle use of color, she conducts us into interior spaces typical of the urban upper-middle class in her country of origin, the United Arab Emirates. We see elements of traditional decoration lying alongside utilitarian modern objects, see everyday familiar practices melt seamlessly into the performance of social functions, see the aesthetics unique to the Persian Gulf mingle with those of its colonial heritage. To bring this heterogeneous amalgam of tastes and values to light, the artist plays skillfully with stereotypes. The results—hybrid, rich, at once joyous and troubling, reflect the rapid evolutions undergone by a very young nation. The cultural, political and religious topos involving the visibility of women—and more generally representation of the body—forms the central concern of these photographs. Through their suggestive character and sophisticated framing, they work around the taboo of figurative representation by drawing our attention to eroticized objects. At the same time, the images move into the foreground the life and social interactions of women viewed within the spaces they inhabit.
Farah Al Qasimi is nominated for the Prix de la Photo Madame Figaro Arles 2021.