Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Photography of Why

I noticed that it has been a while since I have put up some pictures. I am very selective and careful in what photographs I choose to show you, my dear readers, so I am usually extremely reluctant. However, the time feels right.

I have made a point to take pictures of the compound I've lived in every summer for about 3 years. Here are a few of the photos I have taken with some accompanying thoughts:

A view of construction in the distance. 2am
Since the start of this visit, I have been unable to sleep before at least 3am. There were a couple of nights where I took medication that forced me to sleep early, but I still woke up after 1 in the afternoon. One insomniac night I went outside to look at the stars. One thing you'll know about Riyadh is that you can barely see stars due to the insane amount of construction. Right outside my villa, this is what I see beyond the trees - lights upon lights on some skeleton of a building that has been in the process of being built for as long as I can remember. If I ever come back to Riyadh, I am sure new buildings will still be under construction, causing the power in villas to be cut and the noise pollution and sand to drive people to insanity.

View of sky from undulation in wall. Afternoon.
I used to make excuses during the day to go to the small supermarket in my compound because I was desperate to get outside the villa. I would go to buy cookies, gum, or anything else I could think of. On one such trip, I looked at the buildings and noticed that despite their lackluster architecture, I enjoyed running my hands over the texture of the walls and standing within the strange pits that are part of the design. I looked up at the sky and thought...what beautiful lines! What interesting juxtaposition of textures! This is the only way this brown, dirty-looking thing could look beautiful - and it did.

Greens. Afternoon, reaching sunset.
Randomly dispersed throughout the compound are beautifully planted trees and walkways. I have never seen anyone use them and on this late afternoon, I felt very weird walking through them. Aren't they made for walking through? Then again, this is a desert. I feel weird because I know lots of money was spent making a desert look green, and not just a desert, but this compound which doesn't even have that many people in it. Also, no one walks through it, as I said before. I, personally, do not enjoy walking through a waste. And that is exactly what it is.

An empty lot. Same late afternoon.
Once upon a time, there used to be red and orange crawltubes for children to play in. One of the only home videos we had included footage of my sisters crawling through them in the hot sun. Now, the little play area is gone and all that is left is this lot, which is next to the green of those trees I posted above. Who knows what they will end up doing with this - or if it will ever be looked at again. It's very The Dragon in My Dreams-esque to me; I don't really like looking at this empty lot. I saw the red and orange pieces dismantled a previous summer and it irked me even though I only remember watching the video of its existence. I don't remember actually playing in it.

When I take photos of anything and I look back at them, the most pleasure I get is remembering what is was like taking the photograph; where I was, who I was with, and what I remember of my thought process while aiming the shot.

The best photos are the ones that give me the most vivid ideas of what was going on in my mind. I can sometimes be proud of what the picture actually looks like in the end, but mostly, I like to remember why I took the photo in the first place. I guess this is why I enjoy conceptual art so much. As someone who desires to capture moments in time before I feel like they disappear forever, it is the abstract and not the physical that I need in order to fulfill my nostalgic desires.


  1. If anyone wants to see the playground that was in the empty lot before it was dismantled: