A translated version of this piece is Available in: العربية (Arabic)
“To me, memory is my identity. It is the different stages of my life. That memory is divided into two parts: One part is the memory that takes me to a place I miss and I want to relive again in all its details. I remember some situations, they take me to a beautiful world that offers me a sense of happiness. The memory can be related to a particular object or even a certain smell strong enough to take me back to that moment. The second part could be painful memories. When I think of them, they bring back sorrow and pain. Regardless, memory remains an important aspect in the forming of our personalities.”
Last May, the Diwan al-Fan initiative partnered with the Yemen Art Base on a workshop titled ‘The Making of a Photographer Artist’. Based on an open call shared through social media channels, five photographers were selected to be part of a three-day workshop that aimed to train and educate photographers on how to become a photographer artist.
“After this workshop, I began thinking critically of forming my own style. To become a photographer artist with her own views through my photographs. What this workshop did to me was open up my mind and give me a push to become different and critical of the work I produce.” Somaya al-Samawi
The participants were introduced to the work of established photographer artists from different backgrounds and periods, from Henri Cartier Bresson to Shirin Neshat and Rania Matar. At one point, a Skype conversation took place between the participant photographers and Mai al-Moataz, a Bahrain-based photographer artist. Al-Moataz is an emerging photographer artist from the region, and she spoke about her work and style, and shared valued thoughts and advice with the participants.
“I want to work more on topics related to the society and community I am part of. There is so much to show the world about Yemen. I want to tell stories through my photographs that haven’t been told before. Stories far away from the war and bad times. I want to focus on clicking my camera button, and narrating stories; but most importantly, focus on reflecting those stories with honesty and passion.” Eman al-Mansob
As the end of the workshop approached, the participants were asked to work collectively to produce a photo-essay on the subject of objects and memory. Objects of childhood, but also objects of times when Yemen was more peaceful. A number of ideas were discussed and the photographers were given two weeks to produce the assigned work.
‘On Objects and Memory’ takes an indirect look at the sorrow these five photographers hold about the peaceful past of their country. It is fair to say that each object presented inspires the viewer to look back at their own memories and childhood; and somehow they stand strongly as images that remind Yemenis of their similarities rather than their differences, something that is heavily dominating the present moment.
Al Madaniya magazine is pleased to partner with Diwan al-Fan and the Yemen Art Base to act as a platform that presents a new generation of Yemeni photographer artists. Those photographer artists are: Lamia al-Sanafi, Somaya al-Samawi, Eman al-Mansob, and Ranood.