20-year-old Somaya Abdualla began developing her interest in photography from the age of 14. It took her about six years until she obtained her first professional camera. She used Instagram as a platform to share her early work with a public audience. The positive response from the art and photography community in Yemen encouraged Somaya to continue developing her skills, and eventually she began receiving commissions from local companies, organizations and initiatives.
Somaya believes that photography is a matter of ideas before it is a matter of skills or professional equipment. In early 2018, her interest in moving image grew, and she began exploring making short clips. Last month she published her photographs for the first time on Al Madaniya as part of a group photo essay that explored the notion of memory and object. Based on that small collaborative experience, Somaya was encouraged to present an art video piece and utilize Al Madaniya’s platform to share her first video with the public.
Approximately 800 km away from Sana’a, between Tareem, Sayoon, Shebam, Daw’an and Mareb, Somaya spent 25 days traveling in the north of Yemen. She describes her arrival to the first destination, Mareb, as a journey far away from home and yet close, all at once. Different weather, traditions, habits and scenery. Palm trees, mud houses and quiet streets. Curiosity gripped Somaya throughout this trip about how the local women live their day-to-day in those parts of the country. What makes her busy? What makes her active? Somaya attempted to enter some of those homes and speak with the women, but she didn’t encounter much success.
“The way they dressed, the way they spoke… it was all different from life in Sana’a. Walking through those streets, at times I felt I was the only woman walking. As I walked through small alleys, gardens, bookshops and mosques, I got attention from the public. It looked clear to me that everyone was looking at me, questioning what I was looking for. Even I, questioned: what was I looking for?”
Upon her return to Sana’a, Somaya began collecting the accumulated footage from her journey and developed a short video art piece paying homage to the beautiful scenery that existed for thousands of years throughout Yemen. Every part of this country represents a completely different meaning and holds its own hidden codes of conduct and historic memories. Her journey simply reminds us that Yemen is more than a war-torn land.
Al Madaniya is pleased to support the artistic production of young creative Yemenis. Video 07 “Where did she come from?” represents the first art video published on our platform, and we encourage other artists to contact the editorial team and propose future project ideas.
A translated version of this piece is Available in: العربية (Arabic)