Olivia Arthur photographs Dubai’s obsession with wealth

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Through the transparent layers of paper, images emerge and recede as they would in memory. Forms float to the surface yet lie just beyond comprehension in a presentation that expands and complicates photography’s capacity for memory.

At the end of her three month residency, Arthur took photographs of what remains of the shipwreck today. These images are interspersed throughout. “They evoke the sense of a flashback,” she says – the traumatic event that rears its head as if from nothing.

U.A.E. Dubai. The remnamts of the MV Dara wreck which lies in 20m of water off the coast of Dubai and has become covered in fishing nets. 2013
U.A.E. Dubai. The remnamts of the MV Dara wreck which lies in 20m of water off the coast of Dubai and has become covered in fishing nets. 2013

Through such unusual pairings, images take on new meaning. A man lies sleeping on a beach. Behind him the doors of a car open vertically framing his body. He begins to resemble a fallen angel.

A feeling of uneasiness and alienation bubbles on the surface of Stranger. What emerges is a sense of the sacrifices made to live in Dubai and, ultimately, the folly in an unbridled pursuit of wealth.

As Arthur writes in the photobook’s closing line: “When divers first went down to the wreck, they found bodies with life vests around their necks, their pockets full of gold.”

Stranger is published by Fishbar and is available to buy online.

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