The exhibition, at La Galerie at the Alliance Francaise of Dubai, was the outcome of a journey that began when Salem was an undergraduate student and resulted in a book with the same title that was published in June 2016.
Salemâ€™s work invites viewers to a â€œdynamic meditative experienceâ€ and the video-and-sound installation offers an experience similar to a visual walking tour around the streets between the skylines of the city.
â€œI aim to allow people to see that there is more to Kuwait Cityâ€™s urban life than the dazzling modern and luxurious buildings that somehow feel lifeless.
Behind them are the most scenic streets and passages that tell a far more powerful story,â€ Salem said.
â€œI was an 18-year-old woman with dreams of travelling to explore new cultures and places.
At that time, I had to focus on my education.
I could not afford to travel.
I had a car and a camera and I decided to use these tools every weekend to park somewhere in the city and go on walking adventures,â€ she said via e-mail from Chicago, where she is working towards a masterâ€™s degree in art therapy and counselling.
Salem faced several obstacles in a country where women were often not expected to be roaming alone photographing backstreets.
â€œHowever, I made it work for me and I built honest human connections with strangers on those streets.
Often, I would return with a printed photograph to offer it to shop owners or craftsmen whom I had met on the street,â€ she said
Salemâ€™s documentation of a 5-year period of a city that is constantly shifting generated great interest inside and outside Kuwait.
â€œThere was great feedback,â€ she said.
â€œAt one point a few individuals who were not happy with â€کthis specific imageâ€™ of Kuwait asked me why I didnâ€™t document any of the modern buildings or malls.
Ironically, this was my very point from this project: not to show Kuwaitâ€™s modern architecture that can be easily found on a search engine but to capture the beauty that lies within the rawness of the backstreets.
To include all aspects of the city and those who reside in it.â€
In her journey towards a full-time creative life Salem can count on the support and encouragement of her father, who is creative himself, and friends.
â€œI also receive encouragement from the creative community that I am surrounded by and deeply appreciate the support from viewers and art enthusiasts,â€ she said.
Salem started experimenting with photography when she was â€œ14 going on 15,â€ with a digital camera she would carry in her pocket to capture moments of life around her.
â€œMy father saw potential and bought me a (professional) camera when I was 17.
I began learning on my own and then enrolled in a photography course.
I continued practising and taking as many courses as I could,â€ she said.
â€œBy the time I was 20, I was experimenting with film and instant photography.
Eventually, I started attending both photography and other art practice programmes.
Like every artist, itâ€™s an ongoing practice of building your own aesthetic and conceptualisation of themes.â€
The media Salem is currently working with are photography, video, installation, performance and projection/light work.
â€œThrough my artwork, I question ways of erasing socio-cultural conditioning, through looking at the societal gendered trauma, particularly rooted within my experience as an Arab woman, as well as debating ways of defeating silence and overcoming boundaries of a restricting culture.
Other themes such as existential questioning also appear in my work,â€ Salem said.
Salem said censorship is still a large issue in the Gulf region.
â€œI donâ€™t believe art should be restricted by any kind of ideology,â€ she said.
â€œIt is often easier to censor women and keep their voices down.
It is a part of the culture after all.â€
Stressing the importance of applying feminist theories in the Gulf region, she said: â€œI donâ€™t mean the Western version of feminism or simply the equality of gender but also taking into consideration class, race, religion, nationality and socio-cultural backgrounds.
Feminism is freedom of choice.
Feminism is about dismantling the systems of oppression.â€
â€œCreating platforms that can act as safe spaces, finding new processes to empower our own choices and engaging all members of society in a just way is what is needed right now,â€ she added.
Krishna Kumar is an Arab Weekly correspondent in Dubai.
This article was originally published in The Arab Weekly.
Note: The post (Woman photographer daringly captures beauty of Kuwait Cityâ€™s backstreets) appeared first on (middle-east-online) and do not necessarily reflect the position of IraqNow.news.
You can read the original text from the source (middle-east-online).