The Black Garment was Sheikha Fatima Bint Hazza' Bin Zayed Al Nahyan's debut solo exhibition, although she was no stranger to art or exhibitions. What makes her work stand out is that they were ‘Photograms’, a special technique where an image is reproduced without a camera also referred to camera less photography. This is done by placing the actual object that the artist wishes to capture directly onto a special light sensitive material like photographic paper and then exposing it to light. The result is a captivating negative shadow-like image that shows different variations in its tone which mainly depends on the transparency of the object. The interesting thing is the areas of the paper that do not receive any light remain white while some areas turn different shades of grey. The final result is usually an enticing x-ray inspired portrait.

Sheikha Fatima blends her artistic vision with traditional culture to produce an exhibition inspired by the UAE national dress. The Abaya, or in other words “The Black Garment”, plays around different light waves and mesmerizing black and white silhouettes came to life and were displayed at ARA gallery.  The art work represented the preservation of Emirati pride, individuality and identity in an ever-changing globalized world.

One of the attendees Sebastien Montabonel, European Senior Specialist in Contemporary Photography in Philips De Pury & Co London, mentioned,  "Sheikha Fatima has succeeded to master one of the hardest and oldest process in photography, the photograms. The highly crafted prints give a sense of lightness, depth and volume that are rarely seen in the world of photography."

Furthermore, Shoair Mavlia Curator at Tate Modern London who also attended the exhibition added, "It was lovely to be involved in the opening of H.H Sheikha Fatima’s debut exhibition… The theme and presentation of the work was very well thought through and it was refreshing to see the mixing of tradition with modern photographic techniques in the large scale photograms that were presented."

The official opening and ribbon cutting of the exhibition was carried out by H.H Sheikh Zayed Bin Hazzaa Al Nahyan, Sheikha Fatima’s brother, and was attended by a large number of socialites based in the UAE as well as world renowned curators and consultants.

We do not think we have ever seen a black garment look so alluring and enticing and at the same time carry a powerful message of culture, national identity and tradition.

– Sharifa Al-Badi

Images courtesy of Sheikha Fatima

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