Photographer and founder of Gulf Photo Plus, Mohamed Somji, gives us a look into his experience at the Venice Biennale through five images of inspiration that he has chosen as his highlights.
The Venice (Art) Biennale is a biennial event celebrating contemporary art from over 90 countries visited by over 500,000 visitors over 6 months. The UAE has had a presence since 2009 and Mohamed Somji was fortunate enough to photograph the country’s pavilion and artists since then.
Scroll through five highlights through the perspective of a photographer:
Venice is abundantly beautiful. It is difficult to take a bad photo in Venice - the canals, the buildings, the architecture. It is easily forgotten that Venice was shaped by the influences from the East. Back in the sixth century, Venetian merchants sought the riches of the East, and a colony of Venetian merchants existed in Alexandria from the 14th century. Turks, Arabs, Armenians, Greeks, and Africans traveled to the city, and even established permanent outposts in it -- in fact, St. Mark’s Basilica that towers over the famous San Marco square was derided by English writer and art patron William Beckford as “oriental in appearance” and that he could not help “think St. Mark’s a mosque.”
2. People watching at the Biennale
During the opening week, the Biennale was in full swing with people from the art world from all over the world, and it’s fun to people watch. For example, EVA & ADELE are an Austro-German duo who steal the limelight at art openings around the world with their distinct look and surreal wardrobe and accessorising. Read more about them here.
3. The UAE Pavilion
The UAE’s presence at the Biennale has grown from strength to strength, and this year was no exception. With a wonderful exhibition curated by Hammad Nasr, showcasing works by 5 artists, surrounding the theme of playfulness - spanning over two generations of artistry in the UAE. Click here to learn more.
4. Magical light
The light in Venice is breathtaking, and good light always makes for a good photo. You don’t have to go far to find good light — whether it’s the shadow play during the day, or beautiful dusk light. (the first photo below, was captured on my iPhone!)
5. The art
The myriad artworks on display make for interesting photos especially as people interact with the work. With so much to see, it can be overwhelming, but often, if you are patient, you can capture some fun photos.