Zeinab Al Hashemi is an Emirati photographer who aims to preserve culture by using traditional techniques such as collaborating with artisans in the region to produce innovative contemporary work.
In her inaugural exhibition, the Emirati photographer presents a series of satellite images of of the UAE rearranged to form kaleidoscope patterns. In Urban Phantasmagoria, she re-orders the polished lines of downtown Dubai and the construction of Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi. As these landscapes continue to change, Al Hashemi’s work will become a nostalgic and evocative catalogue of urban evolution in the Emirates.
Zeinab Al Hashemi creates composite images using satellite shots of Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Landscapes intermingle in kaleidoscopic abstractions to reveal the complex structures underlying these cities. The hypnotic, yet highly ordered patterns follow strict guidelines of geometry, echoing constructions in Islamic art and architecture.
Al Hashemi is part of a new generation of artists presenting documentary photography in a post-internet framework by relying on new sources for appropriation. These artists not only bring a novel subjects into focus, they also present a multitude of innovative options for photographic execution. The work affords viewers a perspective on developments in the history of photography, using techniques which would have been painstakingly difficult to produce before the advent of digital technology.
Like the 18th century theatre of illusion from which the series takes its name, Phantasmagoria blends the real and the dreamlike in a complex collision. The artist challenges her constantly shifting landscape, paradoxically questioning through the medium of photography not what is, but rather what could be.
Zeinab Alhashemi, Camoulflage 2.0, installation view, Desert X AlUla 2022, courtesy the artist and Desert X AlUla, photo by Lance Gerber