In its opening addresses last Thursday, the International Photography Festival XPOSURE 2019 began with the overarching message of the crucial role of photography in exposing stories that must be told. After four days of delivering a packed programme led by industry experts and relished by the UAE’s culture-loving populace, it is safe to say that the event has left us with stories we didn’t hear before. They shocked us, made us laugh and cry and at the same time, opened our eyes to seemingly distant realities, which have made us rethink our way of life.
With messages of conservation and humanitarian issues at the heart of its masterfully curated exhibitions – 39 solo and eight group showings – XPOSURE 2019 stirred our creativity and our consciousness. The big success of the fourth edition was contributed by 357 photographers and their 1,112 works displayed at the Expo Centre Sharjah and in five outdoor exhibitions at prime locations in Dubai and Sharjah; over 30 sessions of professional photography workshops; riveting talks by the 53 attending photographers; a top-quality consumer trade show, and more.
The festival, organised by the Sharjah Government Media Bureau (SGMB), attracted 15,000 visitors over the four days of the event.
The closing ceremony on Sunday evening heard from Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed al Qasimi, Chairman of the Sharjah Media Council (SMC), who said XPOSURE 2019 brought 1,112 unique stories from around the world to Sharjah and the UAE – not just images. “These photographers are our window into our world. They show us that the 7.7 billion people we share planet earth with are all connected, in the simplest and the most profound ways,” he said.
Highlighting the cultural and educational role of the festival, Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmad Al Qasimi noted: “Through XPOSURE, we want to preserve this important art form, while bringing its practitioners and patrons together in a space that allows free-flowing interaction and exchange of ideas and sharing of stories we wouldn’t have otherwise heard or, in XPOSURE’s case, seen. Every exhibition brought with it a unique message – conservation, conversations; fashion, urban life; human rights, crisis, city streets, arid desert; people – faces, hopes, dreams.”
Sharjah Media Council Chairman continued: “XPOSURE not only brought to Sharjah and the UAE 1,112 photographs, but stories from around the world – about people, nature, culture, traditions, art, life, adventures, war, crisis, hope, humanity, losses and triumphs. This is a place of learning. This is an event that has been created with the intention that when each one of us walks out, irrespective of having spent an hour or a full day here, they feel truly nourished – by art, by life.”
Xposure International Competition Winners
A gala award ceremony honoured the winners of this year’s international competition. The fourth edition’s winners for the competition’s 11 categories were selected from 14,757 entries from 111 countries. The SMC Chairman and HE Tariq Saeed Allay, Director of Sharjah Government Media Bureau, honoured all winners.
Fahad Abdualhameid and Deryk Baumgaertner won the Architecture category awards, while Rene Bernal and Tony Law took the two Photojournalism awards. In the Junior Category, Abdulaziz Almansoori won and Abdulrahman Al-Naqeeb was declared the runner-up. Thibault Flament was honoured for taking the top spot in the Short Film category, and Jing Yi Low took the second spot. As for the Sharjah Government category, Fahmi Alshalili topped the list, followed by Ahmed Al-Ali.
Winner of the Mobile Photography category was Zay Yar, with Lin Mithail Afrige Chowdhury coming second. Mohammad Murad was the winner of the Night Photography category, while Mohammed Badwan secured the second place. Winners of the Nature & Landscape category, João Galamba and Tomáš Neuwirth, were also honoured. The Portrait & People category winners were Svetlin Yosifov and Hlaing Myint Min.
Timothy Allen Photography Scholarship Award (TAPSA)
The Timothy Allen Photography Scholarship Award (TAPSA), offered its 10-day residency programme to five winners from among the 1,269 applicants this year. The winners of this edition of the scholarship, Shahab Naseri from Iran, Greece’s Anna Pantelia, Rossi Fang from Taiwan, Russian national Sergey Parshukov and Senthil Kumaran Rajendran from India, were all honoured with their scholarship awards.
Sharjah World Book Capital 2019 at XPOSURE
The Sharjah World Book Capital Office (SWBCO) continued its yearlong celebrations of the UNESCO title the emirate received last April at XPOSURE with Senegalese artist Omar Victor Diop’s exhibition ‘Read. Dream. Create Africa.’ A collection of 10 stunning images of African women and men reading together portrayed the message about the role and importance of literature in shaping and inspiring photography and other art forms.
They also hosted a book signing event at the SWBC pavilion at XPOSURE, featuring John Moore, Stephen Wilkes, Frans Lanting, Mobeen Ansari, Ami Vitale, Ira Block, Will Burrard-Lucas, Grégory Pol, Cris Toala Olivares, Michael Christopher Brown and other industry stalwarts.
With the emphatic success of this edition of Xposure, Sharjah has reaffirmed to the region and the world its leading role in preserving arts and culture, and the need to promote photography as our window to beauty and universal truths