Vantage Point Sharjah 11
Vantage Point Sharjah 11
   Reading 4 min

The 11th iteration of Vantage Point Sharjah (VPS) is on view at Sharjah Art Foundation (Old Al Diwan Al Amiri, Al Hamriyah) now. Held every year, this photo exhibition supports Africa- and Asia-born early-career photographers who are currently based there or are part of the diaspora. The show will end on 10 March 2024.  

This year, VPS presents four artists and one art collective chosen through an international open call who repurpose found or inherited images and explore the theme of post-colonialism. In the exhibition, each photographer has their section. There is also a communal area which brings the participants’ works together, putting them in conversation.

Employing collage techniques and digital manipulation, Casablanca-born artist Oumaima Abaraghe (b. 1999) works with multiple historical photographs. Her Heffi ainek series, in which the photos are refashioned as silhouettes on translucent paper, emphasises how difficult it is to articulate Moroccan history through the archives. In the works Fkhater Idoudi and The Salted locust still leaps, the photographer celebrates oral family histories and nursery rhymes containing traces of Morocco’s exploitation during its colonial period. 

Indian artist Yashna Kaul delves into the secrets hidden in her family’s photographs and demonstrates how the framing of a moment can shape personal histories and collective memory. In her Hands of God series, she examines her father’s early-onset Alzheimer’s. Using fragmented frames, Kaul obscures family photos so that the images are focused on his hands. The System of Objects series is devoted to female figurines that are motifs throughout Kaul’s family photographs. She uses them to contemplate how personal objects are used as a performative facet of identity.

Yashna Kaul, From “The Image World”, 2018–2022.

In his photo series Here, The Doors Don’t Know Me, Egyptian photographer Mohamed Mahdy shows the displacement of the fishing communities of Al Maks (Alexandria) and the impact of urban redevelopment policies. Here, family photos are juxtaposed with those depicting the destroyed homes and scattered belongings of the neighbourhood.

Mohamed Mahdy, From “Here, The Doors Don’t Know Me”, 2015-2023.

The Postbox Ghana collective focuses on how Ghana used architecture to express its identity. Some of the buildings did not end up serving their intended functions. One of them is a silo commissioned by Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first president. The collective used it as a space to display its series Muddy stories comprising archival images taken from postcards made from the 1950s to 70s. The images were placed on the silo’s floor flooded by the water and mud. In the other series, The Beautyful Ones, Postbox Ghana left archival pictures of Accra’s Makola Market in the area as it exists today. The collective returned to the photos months later to document how they had changed. 

Postbox Ghana, Muddy stories, 2023.

French-Algerian visual artist Clea Rekhou displays two series of works presenting narratives of generational violence. The Monsieur series is about the men in a French rehabilitation centre for those who have committed domestic violence. The photographer visited the centre to explore the spaces these men occupy as they try to reintegrate into society. The series On the Edge follows one of the men as he returns to his family after spending time at the centre. 

About the participants 

Yashna Kaul (b. 1995, New Delhi, India) obtained a BFA in Photography and Imaging from NYU Tisch School of the Arts (New York, USA) in 2018. In her ongoing projects, she appropriates the family album to delve into the relationship between photography, memory, and myth-making. Kaul was shortlisted for the PhMuseum 2023 Women Photographer’s Grant and received an honourable mention for the New Generation Prize.

Mohamed Mahdy (b. 1996, Giza, Egypt), a visual artist residing in Alexandria (Egypt), earned a degree in Arts and Design from Pharos University (Alexandria). He was granted a scholarship and completed two diplomas at the Danish School for Media and Journalism (DMJX) in Aarhus (Denmark). In his practice, Mahdy concentrates on the hidden communities in Egypt and explores different cultural and social issues related to them.  

Postbox Ghana is an art collective founded by Nana Ofosu Adjei (b. 1993, Accra, Ghana), Courage Dzidula Kpodo (b. 1999, Kumasi, Ghana), and Manuela Nebuloni (b. 1986, Milan, Italy). It works with historical postcards, archival architectural materials, and collective memory. 

Clea Rekhou (b. 1988, Paris, France) lives and works in Algiers (Algeria). She graduated from college with a master’s degree in Corporate Finance and started to study photography by herself in 2016. Growing up on the Paris outskirts, she witnessed various social challenges which informed her work. The themes she is interested in include overlooked social issues, history, and identity questions.

To learn more about Vantage Point Sharjah 11, please visit the exhibition’s official web page.

You might also be interested in looking through twelve historical photo albums launched by the Akkasah photo archive.