A Conversation with Global Photographers

The Center for Media and Design at Habib University held an intriguing event on November 13th wherein photographers Wendy Marijnissen, Ali Sultan and Wei Leng Tay offered some great insights to the students about photography. The evening kicked off with the photographers being briefly introduced by Saima Zaidi, part of the faculty at the school of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. As the photographers took the stage one-by-one, each told the students and other attendees their interest in photography, their history and the reason for them doing what they do.

Wendy Marijnissen spoke briefly of her history in this field and how she chose to initially combine music and people as her subjects, to reflect the differences as well as the similarities in the communities living in the conflict riddled state of Palestine and Israel. Displaying her works, she commented on how there seemed to be a shared humanity to the inhabitants of these regions; that although there was conflict, the Israeli and Palestinian youth would rally on and use different outlets for expressing themselves and aspired for the same things. She also shed light on how there was a sensitive dynamic between the citizens of each region, where there would be consequences for Palestinian individuals voicing their opinions that were much harsher than necessary. This was then put into context through her photographs where she showed a series in which a Palestinian family get uprooted from their homes wherein generations had flourished. The photographer also talked about visiting Pakistan, where she met Dr. Shershah in Pakistan who showed her the difficulties faced by the inhabitants of disaster-struck regions of Pakistan, and the camps people would inhabit. She reflected on how Dr. Shershah showed her the perils women face giving birth in Pakistan, and how she built relationships with them and chose them as her subject matter. She also traveled to the Interior Sindh regions wherein she witnessed surgical camps and its inhabitants.

Wei Leng Tay also talked about her travels and history, and how she would primarily use the elders of her community has her inspiration, either for photography or for sound-bites. She revealed little snippets of conversations with her elders, wherein they would speak of community, culture, language and race. The artist’s photographs showed a very domestic scene, vibrant and colorful with a very astute sense of focus. Wei Leng, being a representative of “Vasl Artist Collective”, talked of how her multicultural, colonial environment shaped her upbringing, and of those around her. “Growing up with labels, it taught me to think about the people there (in different ways). Her photographs showed different things, such as relationships of people and their communication styles, or lack thereof. She also regaled the audience with images she had taken in Pakistan, and spoke of the difference in class being so apparent in cities like Karachi. Her photographs spanned areas like Defense, Clifton and Saddar in Karachi.

Finally, the acclaimed photographer and painter Ali Sultan graced the staged and showed off his profound photography portfolio. Having been a photographer in Lahore for nearly a decade, he called himself “a total city boy, to me, a trashcan is endlessly more interesting than a mountain”. The artist spoke of his obsession with cities and light, which he used as inspiration and reflected in each of his photographs. His portfolio, made up of interesting compositions of light and shadow, showed everything from landscapes, to people and objects. His interest in light, darkness and the effect of either as it consumed objects, was apparent in each photograph. Addressing the students, he spoke of how one must have a vision they want to achieve, that clearly and distinctly answers the question of “why” they’re taking up photography.

The event was attended by faculty members, students and the general public, and held a distinctive charm to the students of photography and design particularly. The Center for Media and Design holds events such as these on a semi-regular basis, relating to media, design, production and sound in particular.


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