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Representation (In) Location

Excerpt from the essay:

"Tarek Al-Ghoussein embodies both the participant and observer in spaces where quasi-built environments collide with nature. These ‘sets’ are man-made constructions of progress, industry, and enterprise, bordered by the peripheries of sky, sea and dirt in the photographer’s frame. Cement mixers, cranes, temporary industrial fencing, irrigation pipes, and potted flora act as props for Al-Ghoussein’s articulations of an environment in transition. He formally creates each mise-en-scène, which he describes as,“… deliberate compositions made before, after and within the frame”.[i] Moving between abstraction and the specific circumstances found in each location, his self-directed interventions stimulate questions about each site’s imagined purpose and the photographer-cum-protagonist’s relationship to the surrounding environment."


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Tarek Al-Ghoussein: Transfigurations. (2014) London: Black Dog.


[i] The photographer in conversation with the writer, Dubai 9 January 2014.


[ii] Bright, D, 1989, “Of Mother Nature and Marlboro Men”. in R. Bolton ed., The Contest of Meaning. Cambridge: MIT Press, p. 139.


[iii] Turner, F, August 1985, “Cultivating the American Garden”. Harpers, p. 50.


[iv] The photographer in conversation the writer, Saadiyat Island, 19 November 2011.


[v] Notably the Saadiyat Reserve comprises approximately twenty percent of the island and is principally natural wetlands and mangrove forests. (Source: Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority (Internet). Available at: [Accessed 14 April 2014].


[vi] Fisher, J, 2008, “Where Here is Elsewhere”, in K. Boullata ed., Belonging and Globalisation. Beirut: Saqi.


[vii] Hall, S. 1994, “Cultural Identity and Diaspora”, in P, Williams and L. Chrisman eds., Colonial discourse and post-colonial theory: a reader. New York: Columbia University Press, p. 393.


[viii] Sassen, S, 2011, “Strategic Geographies: Challenge of their Visualization”, in C, Pontibrand ed., Mutations: Perspectives on Photography. Göttingen: Steidl, p. 36.


[ix] See discussion in David Campany’s essay “Straight Pictures of a Crooked World” in C, Coppock and P. Seawright eds. So Now Then. Cardiff: Ffotogallery, 2006.

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