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Dubai, UAE, September 10, 2018:  On this month's episode of Inside the Middle East, CNN explores the region's growing art scene. The programme meets Mubarik Jafery, co-founder of Tribe, the Middle East's only magazine dedicated to Arab photography.

Jafery describes how his childhood developed his interest in art: “Photography's been part of my upbringing. My father was a photographer. He was the first person who got a Hasselblad camera in the Middle East. He built the accessories by hand. He took all these portraits of us, it was very contagious – I wanted to be a part of that.” 

He tells CNN why he felt inspired to establish the publication: “As my career developed in publishing, I felt that there was this major gap in the art world, which was an archive or representation of photography from the region. So, I started Tribe. Tribe made sense to me personally, and it also made sense that it should exist because there isn't anybody else at this moment archiving this genre of art.”

Jafery's team aims to archive the progression of art produced from the Middle East through Tribe magazine: “It's important to feature the evolution of artists, once we've established them within the magazine framework. That also lends itself to the archive concept of what Tribe represents. It's also interesting because the magazine is kind of developing that focus [on] documentation and photojournalism.”

CNN explores the Tribe HQ and follows Jafery as he works on the upcoming edition of the magazine. He explains the magazine's aesthetic is similar to that of an art gallery: “The way we lay out the magazine is that we give it a lot of negative space. We give it breathing room. Some of these images are so powerful and so beautiful that by complicating it with its surrounding almost takes away from the experience.”

One section of the magazine focuses on and celebrates the region's emerging artists. Jafery outlines why such focus is important: “Every issue, we try to have a balance between major portfolios of artists, which are major artists, and then profiles of artists and their one specific body of work, and then ‘Series' which introduces the new, up and coming artists. So, one of the great things about Tribe is that we really go out there and start discovering different writers and artists, and a lot of times these guys haven't been published before.”

The programme meets one of the artists featured in the magazine's ‘Series' section, Ali Al Sharji. He describes where his passion for photography began: “I started off as a poet when I was younger. And I remember I was a shy type of person, I couldn't really share whatever I wrote. And that's when I found photography, it was the medium that made me feel more comfortable to share my ideas, my thoughts through a picture. And, as they say: ‘A picture says a thousand words.'”

Supporting new talent at the right time is rewarding for Jafery: “Meeting Ali at the level of development he's at is good for him and us. What the magazine can offer him is a little bit of guidance. This is one of the best parts about working with emerging artists, you get to contribute just a tiny little bit.”

Jafery tells the programme the magazine also celebrates major portfolios by established Middle Eastern artists: “Almost every Arab country has a handful of artists which really define the art movement, In Oman, it's Hassan Meer. He was one of the first people who start doing really cutting edge artwork and really pushing the boundaries of what art should be. Hassan also mentored Ali.”

CNN meets Hassan Meer as he showcases his latest portfolio to Jafery and his team. Meer describes how the appetite for contemporary art has rapidly increased in recent years: “Art in the region was very traditional. I mean tradition in terms of it was two-dimensional. Cutting edge art was to do abstract art. It's come up here very fast actually, in two or three years everybody was doing contemporary art. It's booming everywhere.”

Jafery believes that the present day marks a crucial moment in Middle Eastern photography and is excited for what the future will hold: “There's been a huge growth of the Arab art scene and this is one of the most important times for Arab artists.”



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Posted on : Monday, September 10, 2018  
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