At The Third Line Gallery, Tarek Al-Ghoussein’s images ask us to reflect on place and environment.
In 2015, Tarek Al-Ghoussein set out to photograph Abu Dhabi’s islands – all 215 of them.
His ongoing photographic project Odysseus, some images from which are currently on view at The Third Line in Dubai, documents the outlying islands off the coast of the UAE capital.
Images from the 30 or so islands he has visited so far speak of desolation. These locations are not revealed in the visuals, which are kept free from any telling geographical features. Instead, the artist reflects on ideas of place with the use of wide shots, allowing the landscapes to stretch into near-mono-coloured textures.
At times, Al-Ghoussein inserts himself into the image. His interventions are reminders of the continuing, though at times strained, relationship between people and the environment.
Currently, a complete charting of the islands seems unlikely, with little existing information and restricted access, as well as requests for visits to authorities still awaiting approval. Over the years, Al-Ghoussein has worked with government entities such as the Environmental Agency – Abu Dhabi and the Department of Culture and Tourism to gain access, but other islands are privately owned and are more difficult to gain permissions for.
It is no surprise then that the project has expanded slowly over the years, with the total number of islands visited stagnant over the past three years.
The artist, who was born in Kuwait to Palestinian parents, is known to be a photographer of hidden or abandoned places.
While the fate of Odysseus remains unclear, the existing works that constitute the series will continue to raise these questions.
Odysseus is on view at The Third Line, Dubai, until Wednesday, May 5.
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