A collection of photographs capturing the spirit of the holy month of Ramadan went on display this weekend at The Empty Quarter Gallery in Dubai International Financial Centre.
The exhibition, entitled Supplication, is by Katarina Premfors, a Swedish photographer who says that the power of the image can support positive social change. Her work, themed under the words ‘To humbly ask for’, is a selection of photographic essays depicting sensitive issues and all focused on Ramadan.
Hosted by Brownbook and supported by Emirates NBD, the show runs throughout the holy month.
Premfors explains that the idea behind Supplication came from the definition of the word itself. ‘A humble request is a bit like thanksgiving in reverse,’ she says. ‘Inside we remember to be thankful for everything we have, but at the same time there is also a tacit humble request for our good fortune to continue. This seems fitting for Ramadan, which, in a way, is a kind of prolonged act of devotion.’
Her images are rich and deeply textured, veering away from sentimentality and imbued with a simplicity and honesty whilst remaining direct and to the point. ‘I grew up in Turkey, Pakistan and the UAE and particular memories of Ramadan are lodged in my memory,’ she explains. ‘The most striking is the beating of drums to wake everyone up before dawn. In Turkey they were loud drums, the whole city shook and my family and I were shaken to life every morning during Ramadan. Here in the UAE the sound was a bit softer. As I lived on the beach here for most of my 19 years the sound of the drums was mixed with the sounds of the sea and it was one man with a drum tied to his handlebars who cycled around.’
The photos in Supplication were not shot as one project but the artist says she hopes there is a sense of a moment shared or sometimes observed, a moment of inward reflection, or perhaps a sense of belonging to the collection.
During the month, Brownbook will host two suhoor evenings and a silent auction for some of the images. Proceeds will go towards Social Bandage, a charity that aims to improve the standards of disabled people around the world. Spearheaded by Aisha Saeed Harib, the not-for-profit organisation conducts medical campaigns targeting the local Emirati community. ‘Our aim is to educate and raise awareness about health related issues among the younger generation,’ says Harib.
* Supplication: Katarina Premfors, in association with Emirates NBD and Shelter is at The Empty Quarter, DIFC from 20th July – 16th August 2012
Photography: Amal Murad