SAF celebrates outstanding photographic work with Vantage Point Photography Awards

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Sharjah Art Foundation recently announced the five winners of this year’s Vantage Point Photography Awards. The awards were presented during the opening of the annual photography exhibition Vantage Point Sharjah (VPS) at SAF’s Al Hamriyah Studios.

This year, Md Fazla Rabbi Fatiq won the first prize, while the four runners-up were Hady Barry, Kirti Kumari, Morteza Niknahad, and Neec Nonso.

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An international jury of prominent photographers — Solmaz Daryani, Lamya Gargash, and Sohrab Hura — selected the winner and four runners-up, who received a cash prize of $5,000 and $1,500 each, respectively.

The exhibition’s opening program included a talk with the awardees, where they shared the stories behind their winning photographs as well as details about their inspiration and practice.

Manifesting the spirit of experimentation in lens-based image making, VPS presents works that celebrate photography's ability to perceive social realities and the diversity of contemporary lives from multiple perspectives.

Md Fazla Rabbi Fatiq’s ‘Dark Garden’ depicts the historic plight of tea workers on plantations in Sylhet in Bangladesh. In the 19th Century, the British tea management brought in workers from other provinces of India, promising them a bright future.

The tea workers and their subsequent generations never received land rights. Fatiq says these tea workers are sill living in mud houses. “I want to show their identity, culture, and their roots. A few things need to be said directly,” he says.

His work reveals the duality of the situation, showing the broken hand of the tea worker, fireflies in the night, and the beauty of the tea gardens, juxtaposed against the harsh reality.

Hady Barry in her work “Wearing the Inside Out’ is the story of a friendship and an exploration of motherhood. Barry takes a sabbatical from her management career to depict the second pregnancy of her friend in Guinea and exploring the duality in the relationship.

“It is important to start from within. I believe in a collaborative approach,” says Barry.

Kirti Kumari’s ‘One Day At Night’ is her graduation project exploring a traditional community in North India. She spends time with the village folk, sharing their folk tales and legends.

The highlight of her work is the depiction of how the women in that area gets collectively haunted by spirits.

Morteza Niknahad’s “Big Fish’ is a highly symbolic and autobiographical work based on his mother’s depression and how the whole family’s life changed after his mother could not shake off the effects of a nightmare – that of a monster following her.

Sharing his mother’s story with the rest of the world, Niknahad says: “My art is the only thing that has helped my mother get better.”

Introduced in 2013 to cultivate public engagement with photography as an artistic medium, VPS has evolved into a dynamic platform that embraces multiple approaches to photography, from photojournalism and photo essays to experimental work in both analogue and digital forms.

The 10th edition of VPS received more than 450 submissions to its open call. Works by 66 artists from 34 countries were selected for the exhibition, which will remain on view until December 11, 2022, at SAF’s Al Hamriyah Studios, in Al Hamriyah, Sharjah.

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