Opening reception Sunday, November 30th from 7pm – 10pm

Exhibition: November 30th – December 31st, 2014

Exhibition of Works by Photographer Anita Van der Krol and Al-Moutasim Al-Maskery

During the celebration of The Arab Emirates 43rd year as a federation, we look back on a time before the concrete and steel towers, luxury hotels and sophisticated restaurants. “It was a period of transition from nomadic life to the first communities of this newly founded nation,” states Van Der Krol.

The Empty Quarter Gallery is pleased to present photographs of the United Arab Emirates in a compelling body of work entitled “The Beginnings of a Nation” by Dutch photographer Anita Van der Krol.

In 1975, the wife of a Dutch dredging engineer, Anita Van der Krol was in a unique position to shoot intimate pictures of the first nomads to settle in this land. Living as an expat in Jumeirah, she became one of the first inhabitants of Jebel Ali Village. Rather naively, Van Der Krol ventured out to the villages, souks and sandy desert, with two small children in tow and managed to win the confidence and respect of the hundreds of people she met while photographing their way of life. “Some of them had never had a photo of themselves before. They were delighted and you can see that in the photographs,” states Van der Krol.

The Bedouin images from the desert must have been among the last taken, before this entire population gave up their nomadic existence and settled down to form towns and villages.

Van der Krol’s insightful photographs have rapidly become part of the heritage of this young country and a source of national pride.

In addition, the artist Al Moutasim Al Maskery presents his work called “Burqa”.

The Gulf Burqa is a light piece of fabric worn on the face.  Traditionally the colour of the burqa was predominately red, known locally as “nili”. It was a firm, shiny cloth imported from India for over 100 years.  Some believe the design of the burqa deliberately mimics the features of the Saheen, the falcon, a traditional Arabic symbol of grace, pride and strength.  Because of the lack of written records about its history, the origin of the mask is uncertain, and speculation has it coming variously from Yemen, Oman or even further a field, from the Muslim communities in India.  Among the Arabic tribes of the Gulf, at some point the metallic finish was added – a development now lost in time but which has been handed down through successive generations.

“It is meant as decoration for the face, to beautify the woman beneath not to suppress or hide her features.  In this age of globalization where western values influence the Arabic way of life, forcing alien ideals on the culture of this region, I fear the burqa will naturally fall into disuse”, states Al Maskery.

Al-Moutasim Al-Maskery, born on the 14th of June 1981 in Oman. Al-Maskery’s interest in photography began at the age of 12 when he traveled on extraordinary trips with his geologist father across mountains, valleys, and deserts of his native Oman. “The challenge in photography is in the ability to engage and perceive.  When I have an image in my head, I see it in its minutest detail.  Executing is the easy part; it is the formulation of an image that demands the real talent.”