Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Tor Seidel: The Dubai

The pictures in this book are stunning, what they show is fantastic, awe-inspiring, and unreal – and bears testimony to the strange endeavours human beings engage in. 

Strange endeavours? I mean: Why would anybody think the desert to be a suitable place for a modern city? Well, why not? And if you got the money then there's quite obviously no reason not to do what can be done. Moreover, there are cities up in the mountains, there are underwater tunnels, there are ...
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Dubailand, Universal Studios, 2014

Reading the above caption, I know instinctively that I'm looking at art. And, true enough, like almost all photo books by photographers who call themselves artists, The Dubai comes not only with highly insignificant, pretentious captions but with hardly any information that would help the reader understand what he's looking at.

There's however a short text ("The Track Layer") by the curator and journalist Nadine Barth that answers at least one of my questions: Why is this book called The Dubai and not simply Dubai? "The artist titled his series The Dubai analogue to The Palm, that spectacular gargantuan project on the Persian Gulf of Dubai made up of artificial palm-leaf-shaped islands."
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Burj al Arab, 2012

The pictures that photographer und publisher have decided to show us depict mostly human made constructions that, aside from the occasional model photographed with her back towards the camera, are largely devoid of people. What I experience while looking at them is a certain soullessness that however doesn't bother me. Take for example the pic of the Burj el Arab above: I feel entranced by the aesthetics, and in awe of the perspective.
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The Villa, 2014

There is also a text by Dominic Wanders entitled "Dubai after the Crisis: What's Next?" that provides useful information about the city (that around 90 percent of those living and working in the emirate are foreign-born, for instance) although it reads largely like advertising copy ("Dubai will spare no expense in putting on Expo 2020 and will surely be a gracious and proud host presenting a brilliant world exposition").
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Jumeira Hills, 2010

I very much like the effect these photographs have on me. Although I know it to be Dubai that I'm looking at, it doesn't seem to matter where (geographically speaking, that is) these images originated from. It is an aesthetic adventure that unfolds in front of my eyes, what I'm shown doesn't seem real.

Tor Seidel
The Dubai
Hatje Cantz, Ostfildern 2014

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