Sheikh Majid Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) yesterday opened “Dubai Transmutations” the world premiere of a photographic exhibition by renowned photographer Martin Becka presented by the Empty Quarter Fine Art Photography Gallery,. The exhibition is supported by the DIFC Lifestyle Group.
Martin Becka has photographed the city of Dubai using the same techniques used 170 years ago, showing that photography can, in the hands of a master, remain eternally in the present.
In his earthily warm and exquisitely detailed salted paper prints, the antique becomes contemporary. The show, running until November 28 at The Empty Quarter premises at The Gate Village in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), promises to delight visitors with exciting, never-seen-before photography of Dubai; considered one of the most dynamic cities in the world.
To support this innovative exhibition, The Empty Quarter has brought an original camera dating from 1857 to the exhibition as well a darkroom set up from that period.
Also launched, as part of this exhibition was an accompanying 40-page book, “Dubai, Transmutations”: capturing Martin Becka’s Dubai using 19th Century techniques.
At the opening, Martin Becka conducted a brief lecture about the series as well as the printing process.
Abdulla bin Sougat, Chief Executive Officer of the DIFC Lifestyle Group, explained that: "The series of Martin Becka's photography was realized during a one-month stay in Dubai in March 2008. Through this series, Martin Becka draws up an original panorama of Dubai today.
"DIFC is proud to support the world premier of this exhibition, which is a much anticipated event on the arts calendar of Dubai and the region. With its unique set of photographs, I am pleased that Dubai is the subject and host of a new genre of art created by the talented Martin Becka," Bin Sougat added.
Martin Becka has deliberately created a collision caused between historical time and present time. The anachronism of the space-time present in the photographs takes us far from the usual expectations on Dubai. The architecture and the town planning of this emblem city of the 21st century seem to span time, as if we look at them with the eye of a distant future. The result is strange and archaeological. The city; its avenues, its monuments, its places, its bridges, its roads takes on, to some extent, the appearance of ancient monuments.
The images of the thousands of building sites of Dubai's metamorphosis have been captured with a wooden photographic tool of very large format on negative waxed papers; a process invented approximately 160 years ago by Gustave Le Gray. These photographs were carried out on albumin paper and were toned with gold.
The entire set of this unreleased series comprises 40 photographs.