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Lamya Gargash: Presence

Her photographic project "Presence" records the process of urbanization and spatial abandonment in the United Arab Emirates.
Jul 2008

Presence deals with the idea of subsistence in renounced spaces, and the prevalence of identity within unwanted houses or structures in the United Arab Emirates (specifically Dubai, Sharjah and Ajman). The quarters documented vary from being semi-abandoned (people about to move to newer houses) to those soon to be demolished. These interiors represent a young culture that came to life, post the oil boom, nearly thirty years ago. Now, with the need to be "modern" taking over, cultural extinction is sadly inevitable, and a new identity is forming. The fast rate with which these structures are being renovated, or formed, leaves very little time to grieve over these spaces.

The houses or edifices presented in this project entail different features. Some are recently vacant, whereas others have been deserted for a long time. There were some houses that still had people living in them when I began my project; the families residing there were preparing to move to newer homes.

The levels of desertion illustrated in these rooms reflect the history of these areas as well as concluding their fates. It is uncertain what lies ahead for these buildings, but one can almost determine what transpired within them. Unfortunately, the present trend of modernization has transformed the old, cultural infrastructure into beach resorts, rental compounds and even shopping malls.

This project is a visual journey through spaces and rooms that express character and identity through their lack of physical attendance; it documents the space, and the visually non-existent characters. These spaces consume the viewer, and a narrative is formed. They speak of lives that once existed, or still exist, and depict the sad notion of estrangement. The characters are present in the details trapped in these places; they provide an insight into their private lives. A new culture and a new past will evolve from the reminiscence of the estranged.


Presence. 2007

C-type prints
60 x 60 cm each

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