1,558 stories of hope and change by 400 photographers uplift Xposure 2021

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The fifth edition of the globally renowned international photography festival concluded with the announcement of the winners of Xposure International Photography Awards

 

Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi: “The stories behind each picture we saw will live in our memories forever. We [have] learned that we all have a bigger responsibility towards the world.”

 

After four days immersed in the world of photography which involved 54 exhibitions - 41 solo and 13 group – displaying 1,558 works by over 400 photographers; group displays; 21 public seminars and inspirational talks; and 14 unique workshops; 8 in-focus groups; and 14 portfolio reviews; as well as the launch of
Gallery X, a permanent photo exhibition in Sharjah, the fifth edition of Xposure International Photography Festival concluded yesterday (Saturday) at Expo Centre Sharjah with a tribute to the practitioners of the art for their dedication to telling stories that must be told.

 

As the curtain fell on the first truly international photography festival to go live after the Covid-19 pandemic-induced lockdown in 2020, photographers as well as enthusiasts were overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the programmes Xposure offered. The masterfully curated exhibitions featuring stunning images, professional photography workshops and riveting talks by the 51 attending photographers opened them up to a world hitherto unknown, leaving them sometimes shaken, and sometimes exhilarated, but always changed.

 

The fifth edition of the festival, organised by the Sharjah Government Media Bureau (SGMB), attracted 8,000 visitors over the four days of the event.

 

Speaking at the closing ceremony on Saturday evening, Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed al Qasimi, Chairman of the Sharjah Media Council (SMC), told the participating photographers that the pictures they take today would serve as lessons and messages of hope and kindness for future generations.

 

“As the journey of the fifth edition of the International Photography Festival – Xposure concludes, the stories behind each picture we saw will live in our memories forever. We learned so much from these images… We learned that we all have a bigger responsibility towards the world. We learned that photographers are noble agents of change,” he continued.

 

Paying handsome tribute to the ‘agents of change’, Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi said: “They are the first to witnesses exceptional moments and open our eyes to the world. Their pictures serve as a reminder that change is needed. Their images spur awakening and rally the masses. They push for change to happen. As I explored the exhibitions, I saw that people across cultures have won over challenges. These photographs reaffirmed my belief that the trials humanity faces today will surely pass. We will overcome them, and the outcome of our experiences will reflect in greater resilience.”

 

Thanking the organisers, photographers, partners and visitors who had contributed to making the festival a success, he concluded on an optimistic note, saying, “I hope when we meet next year, we will have several stories about successfully overcoming this ordeal, and will find each other safe and well.”

 

Xposure international competition winners

 

The SMC Chairman and HE Tariq Saeed Allay, Director of Sharjah Government Media Bureau, honoured the winners of the 2021 edition of the Xposure International Photography Awards at a gala award ceremony.

 

Hossein Fardinfard was announced the over-all winner in the Xposure 2021 Awards for his image titled ‘Blackout’.

 

The winners in the other categories were: Architecture: Anna Wacker, runner-up Fatima Qader;  Drone: Albert Dross, runner-up Ahmad Abbasi;  Junior: Abdullah Al Raese, runner-up Joel Josy; Landscape: Sheng Liu, runner-up Wong Choon Keat; Macro Photography: Pedro Luis Saiz, runner-up Riad Hamzi; Photojournalism: Alain Schroeder, runner-up Simon Morciz Sabjan; Portraiture: Kevin Shi, runner-up Asim Ijaz; Short Film: Zahra Kababian, runner-up Tripty Tamang Pakhrin; Travel: Wei Fu, runner-up Mingqian Wang; and Sharjah Government open category: Mohamed Noufal, runner-up Abdullah Aref.

 

The competition saw a massive jump in the number of entries - 33,187 from 125 countries across 6 continents.

 

Timothy Allen scholarship winners honoured

 

The five winners of the prestigious 10-day residency programme, Timothy Allen Photography Scholarship Award (TAPSA) - Michal Novotný, Kiran Ridley, F.Dilek Uyar, Ata Ranjbarzeydanlou, and Natalia Gorshkova – were honoured at the closing ceremony. The award saw a huge surge in the number of applicants - 1,600 - this year.

All participants of Xposure 2021, individual photographers, group exhibitions and photo societies, whose works were featured in the festival and who contributed to making its four-day programme a success, were honoured with participation certificates.   

 

Xposure unveils region’s first permanent international photography exhibition, Gallery X

One of the biggest accomplishments of Xposure 2021 was the creation of a new hub where photography can be accessed, learnt and enjoyed all year round. To be housed at the iconic Al Majaz Amphitheatre, Gallery X will be a new permanent gallery in Sharjah, hosting a monthly exhibition featuring a collection of the works of world-renowned photographers who have previously participated in Xposure. The first-of-its-kind gallery in the UAE will also display winning and nominated images from the past editions of the prestigious Xposure International Photography Awards. 

 

 

A world of participation


This year's edition of Xposure highlighted the important role the festival plays in exploring and developing talent, and in finding real opportunities for them to enter the world of photography. Xposure’s global #homecaptured photo contest, which SGMB announced in a bid to offer individuals across the world a way to stay positive and creative amid the Covid-19 lockdowns and ran for six weeks in April – May last year, attracted 7,803 entries from 83 nations.   


In a bid to celebrate the hobbyist’s artistic eye, Sharjah Events, another SGMB initiative, recently launched ‘Sharjah Shines’ – an online platform, which collates outstanding photographs and videos by UAE residents and visitors capturing Sharjah’s beauty and year-long activities. A selection of these works was displayed at Xposure 2021.


These two competitions revealed a new constellation of aspiring young people who presented high quality creations that signal a new direction.

For its fifth edition, Xposure partnered with the Sharjah Police Headquarters, Ministry of Education, Sharjah Media City, Sharjah Broadcasting Authority, BMW, House of Wisdom, Expo Centre Sharjah, World Food Programme, Samsung, Third Eye , FABT, Medecins Sans Frontiers, Dolce Vita, iBrandConnect, TENAUI.

The festival thus served to highlight the creativity of amateur photographers in the UAE, and elsewhere and provided a platform to identify the talents and potentials from around the world.

This edition of Xposure fulfilled the festival’s mandate to build bridges of constructive dialogue between different civilisations and cultures to enhance Sharjah's position as a creative and sustainable global city for culture, heritage, arts and literature.

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