It’s difficult to imagine that Dubai was once a deserted land. With all the developments that have taken place since the 70s, the landscape is hardly recognizable. To this day, the city is constantly shifting, and it’s its constant state of transformation that inspired Gulf Photo Plus and its long-time collaborator Warehouse421’s exhibition, entitled Architecture of Loneliness.
Together, the two galleries co-curated the showcase, bringing together bodies of work exploring the UAE’s urban landscapes, and how they shape the experiences of those living through all of the nation’s transformations.
What transpired looks straight out of a Middle Eastern post-apocalyptic film: a photo of a lonesome giraffe looking towards a slew of lifeless palm trees with the Dubai skyline as its backdrop and a peacock standing before an empty swimming pool.
The photos are part of a series by Richard Allenby-Pratt, titled Abandoned, which sees a Dubai taken over by nature, with no inhabitants in sight.
“The images presented in the exhibition focus on abandoned spaces that once were thriving centres of activity, the development of projects at various stages, and the manifestations of the ideologies that motivate the growth and development of global cities,” reads Gulf Photo Plus’s website.
For the showcase, the co-curators also tapped photographer Lamya Gargash, who looked to the abandoned Dubai Zoo for her latest series, giving us a glimpse into the establishment, lifeless without the animals that once inhabited it and the people who once visited it.
Another striking image sees an empty, but bright diesel station, situated in the desolate desert. The photo is part of a series by artists Mohamed Somji and Sinisa Vlajkovic, who took it upon themselves to document diesel stations in the UAE between 2007 and 2013.