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An Internal Dialogue

A visual image can convey a multitude of meanings that transcend, complicate and contradict the initial composition or subject matter. Photography, for example, could be seen as a most direct and authentic visual medium due to its ability to depict and record a realistic, accurate and uncontrived view of human life. Yet photographs, such a prevalent form of visual communication, like all images, are open to interpretation by the viewer and the photographer. A single photograph can evoke a wealth of ideas and other related imagery not contained in the original picture itself.


By utilising technology, photography has also harnessed the medium’s special ability to blur the boundaries of the real and unreal. Photography, always able to convey complex emotions, with the help of digital technology and computing is now able to communicate complex ideas of reality itself. A real and authentic image can subsequently be modified, manipulated and embellished by the artist to enhance the visual power of a work, challenge the viewer’s expectations of the work’s reality and allow that work to communicate ideas beyond the original parameters of the image.


The photographs of Karima Al Shomely, entitled ‘An Internal Dialogue’, use these ideas to stark effect and seek to channel that dialogue between the image and viewer in a clear direction. Al Shomely’s work does not simply record an emotional or physical state but penetrates it by both taking a subjective, selective point of view and also by adding another physical and emotional layer of meaning to the photograph itself in the form, for example, of rope. In this way the works do not allow a passive or deferential response but invite the viewer to consider the ideas and emotions the image is prompting and engage in a conversation with the viewpoint of the artist behind the lens.  


‘An Internal Dialogue’ highlights notions of human suffering in a series of striking black and white images. The works explore the internalised conflicts, contradictions and restrictions we struggle with by capturing and contrasting the subdued and constrained physical body with the painful, fast moving currents of life and life’s events. These oppositions are drawn out in the composition of the images themselves, with their clear constrictions, and also in the way those images have been subsequently visually enhanced. The viewer is asked to consider not just what can be seen in the images but what they are not able to witness: a constant and private conversation within, and with, ourselves, continuing as we journey through our day.  This inner dialogue can sometimes be so overwhelming or comforting that the real world is temporarily forgotten or escaped.  So while the photographed stationary feet highlight the physical presence of the human figure, the ropes featured in the works visually suggest and expose this secret steam of consciousness, the inner conversation flowing through the mind. 


The struggle that Al Shomely is interested in is an internal one, a hidden emotional, physical and intellectual struggle, but she represents it with visual power by presenting for the viewer an external image of that private, inner self.

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