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REVIEW Images - Courtesy of The Third Line. Writer - Laura Egerton, curator. .

Sara Naim: Molecular and Metaphorical Anthropomorphic qualities and extreme scales captivate the viewer. Have you ever thought that the cells on your

from the UAE’s central region. Each print is displayed

fingertips, when magnified roughly 20 thousand

on a white framed block, the size of an average

times, could resemble the rough contours of a

human hand. The images are close ups, zoomed-in

mountain side? Sara Naim is an artist who finds

snapshots of stone sections, showing the broken

such subtle connections within the landscape of

lines and infinite variety of ridges, both intrinsic to

our daily lives, investigating them in molecular and

the terrain as well as of the impact of weathering.

metaphorical ways. How well do we know ourselves,

This gives Naim’s photographs an anthropomorphic

our physical anatomy: our capacity to love and

quality and warmth, as do the sporadic sprouting of

connect with another human being? Heartstrings, an

vegetation on the rocks.

intimate exhibition at the Hayward Gallery, includes four of Sara Naim’s works selected by curator

Naim’s video Modes of Being is shown on the wall

Dina Ibrahim which share a monotone palette yet

alongside, a constantly moving projection on a

collectively display a density of emotion and pathos

loop, one image scrolling onto the next (similar to

while investigating the process of image-making that

navigating a smart phone) which identifies subtle

to shade, depth to flatness. She recalls finding

identifies Naim as an artist of exceptional dexterity.

changes from the one before – we are looking

negatives of photographs of her ruffled bedsheets

at magnified dead skin cells from the artist’s own

alongside prints of skin cells in the dark room, hardly

The exhibition venue, a busy café cum bar, is

fingertips, moving from one miniscule area to

being able to distinguish between them.

called the Concrete Café due to its unclad walls.

another, but they could just as easily be craters on

These serve as an ideal backdrop for the eleven

the moon. We use our fingertips to navigate the

The final piece in the show Untitled is from the Rock

components of Naim’s project Metamorphic

world through the sensation of touch. How are we

Series, taking a photograph of a magnified rock,

Masafi, which was shown at Art Dubai in 2015. The

supposed to understand and grasp our surroundings

printing it on photographic paper and scrunching it

photographs are hung with an intention of creating

if we cannot identify or recognise the physical make

up into a frame that is too small for the size of paper,

a random arrangement, with some photographs as

up of our own skin?

so it feels the contents are constricted, fighting

low as the skirting, others close to the lighting rigging

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How are we supposed to understand and grasp our surroundings if we cannot identify or recognise the physical make up of our own skin?

to escape. It also allows for shadows and rivets

overhead. Naim explains they were limited with

Naim’s work Fabric of the Human Body comments

to appear in the image, turning it into something

where to hang the work as they had to reuse existing

on how we wrap ourselves in a further protective

both messy and sculptural. The reflective glass

holes. In fact, the final arrangement is symmetrical—

layer through our clothing. A diaphanous piece of

projects onto the image a further dimension: the

which was unintentional but is perhaps a signal of life

fabric hangs from a rail, decorated with a printed

surrounding environment, the viewer, as well as the

itself. Naim sees the wall as an echo of a medieval

image of a human lung and heart from a cadaver,

exhibition space. Curator Dina Ibrahim explains,

castle or fort, where her works resemble the slits used

enlarged beyond recognition. Such extremes

“The intersection between photography and

by archers to shoot out at any enemy. It also looks

of scale are integral to Naim’s practice.They

sculpture is, to me, one of the most intriguing

like a climbing wall, the vertical hanging wires like

intentionally confuse, breaking surfaces down to

formal elements, yet is explored by so few artists;

ropes. Indeed the subject matter is rock formations

the relationships of highlights to shadows, light

here it is treated with full maturity in Naim’s work.”

Tribe 01  

Photography and New Media from the Arab world

Tribe 01  

Photography and New Media from the Arab world