The viewer experiences the artist’s perspective of these rooms as they are. Nothing is altered or staged, not even the lighting. The authenticity of the depictions allows the series to collectively describe an engagement with a space. This uncontrived honesty towards a subject is characteristic of Al Attar’s oeuvre.
Ammar Al Attar / Courtesy of Athr Gallery and the Artist
The interiors are often humble, in line with Islamic tenets and in contrast to the region’s exterior architectural opulence. Serenity and stillness are prevalent in these makeshift rooms, elevating their spatial reality as industrial caravans or rooms in malls and business centers, to that of egalitarian spiritual sanctuaries. The prayer rooms mark the passage of time directly through the ever-present, often multiple occurrence of clocks, and more imperceptibly through the awareness of the movement of the sun.
Rituals that take place before entering the rooms are inferred – ablutions and perhaps even a call to prayer. One cannot help but wonder about the individuals in these very different spaces, performing the same rites. This sense of order and togetherness offers a reprieve from the bustling chaos of urban development. Even the demarcated rows in the carpeting are a comfort.
Al Attar chronicles his surroundings and contemporary landscape, going beyond mere documentation, and engaging with issues impacting the social fabric. These empty constructs where people meet are widely scattered evidence of faith, embodying the crossover between public and private space. The locales appear obscure, but upon closer inspection provide a visual history of the artist’s rapidly developing country by presenting a cultural continuity which is rarely visible amidst overwhelming change.
Ammar Al Attar, Jeddah, Al Sawareekh Market, 2012, 42x52,4 cm, Lambda C-Print / Courtesy of Athr Gallery and the Artist
Ammar Al Attar, Makkah, Al Masjid Al Haram Road, 2012, 42x52,4 cm, Lambda C-Print / Courtesy of Athr Gallery and the Artist
Ammar Al Attar, Medina, Dar Al Salam Station, 2012, 42x52,4 cm, Lambda C-Print / Courtesy of Athr Gallery and the Artist
Ammar Al Attar
Ammar Al Attar (1981) was born in Dubai and lives and works in Ajman. He carries a Masters in International Business from Dubai’s University of Wollongong, and a Bachelors in Business Information Technology from Dubai’s Higher Colleges of Technology. He has taken part in photography courses, both locally and internationally.
Al Attar’s series of UAE Prayer Rooms was exhibited at the 2013 Sharjah Biennial, entitled “Re:Emerge: Towards A New Cultural Cartography.” He was selected for the 2013 Artist in Residence (A.i.R.) program, a partnership between Art Dubai, London’s Delfina Foundation, the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority and Tashkeel. His work has been shown throughout the UAE, and in the Thessaloniki Museum in Greece. The artist was shortlisted for the International Emerging Artist Award.