metamorphosis

I cannot make you understand. I cannot make anyone understand what is happening inside me. I cannot even explain it to myself.

Teen Vogue

One of the more important interviews I've done to date. Pushing boundaries.

http://www.teenvogue.com/story/muslim-artist-yumna-al-arashi-explores-eroticism-through-art

2016 was a year

Snapshots from a year. From a new year in Turkey, living in Los Angeles to New York, driving to Kentucky, working in Jamaica, Lebanon to the Syrian border, Paris, London, and Antwerp. 

Lately

It's been a while. My hiatus from sharing should be slowly ending now. I'm realizing how much I miss sharing my work with you all. Photography has taken such an interesting turn for me in the last year or so. After the release of my book, I began diving into longer term projects. Being able to tell a story with a series of photographs, how to express myself properly has been of great importance to me. What I want to say. How I want to say it. This also involved writing more, and stepping away from the pressures of sharing so I could analyze how to best make my next moves.  

With all that said, I'm taking photos just as madly as I ever have. Sometimes there is intent, sometimes none. The ones without intent tend to be the most fun. Part of me decides these don't need to see the light of day and another feels so excited about the magic I've seen - so much that I yearn to have someone to share it with. Photography is a part of me I can't deny. There's a magic in capturing something in the right place, at the right time. Something only I can see. This window of opportunity I've spent years refining, understanding. One that is constantly in flux, as all art should be. It is a never ending love, a hard one. It aches at times, but more often than not, it's a natural state of being. I always return to my work, a destiny I cannot escape. 

I'm currently in Beirut, dusting off my Arabic, volunteering with Syrian refugees along border towns, and doing research for upcoming work. I love this country more than I remembered. It's broken, beautiful, a mix of everything I've ever loved. 

I'd call this place home, but time and time again I've learned that my life doesn't allow for permanence.  

For now - I like you. Thank you for your embrace, Lebanon. 

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Ghosts of Yemen

 

I made a series of photos called "Ghosts of Yemen" one November evening in 2013, not realizing that this would be the last time I’d see this place the way it was and always has been to me. Old, vibrant and majorly flawed. Power outages plagued those streets hourly, no water to keep the country or its people clean and hydrated, an immense amount of Qat chewing and backwardness that I could hardly relate to. A country so old, streets and corridors that have remained untouched since the beginnings of time. And I loved it so much. 

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I look back at these photos and truly feel those ghosts. Some ghosts are less present than others, light and fleeting, just passing through. Others haunt me, eyes that gaze, stinging like a burn that just won’t fade. I imagine these streets destroyed, crawling with fear, paranoia, grief and uncertainty.  A feeling of helplessness, praying for these ghosts to move on, to rest in peace. 

Paris, November

Journal entry from November 30th, 2014:

 "I'm in Paris. It's a Sunday morning, almost noon. I'm waking after my first full night of rest - a result of the absurd amount of work, wine, and freezing scooter rides. 

I like Paris. It's playful, sad, childlike, and small. Everything is small. A smallness that yearns to hold you tight. Walls close in on you, as if to warmly embrace your presence. Human need for closeness is an undeniable truth in this city. Yet, people are cold to one another - maybe because their interaction is satisfied by living spaces stacked on top of one another. 

The city speaks to you with every step you take.  Animated, alive, pulling you closer to notice its beautiful intricacies. The city bleeds, has scars of its past. You breathe memories. You taste sadness, love, death. The gloom makes color more whimsical, gold shines brighter.  You understand why dreamers plant their roots here.

Time spent building these walls gave them life, as maybe you'd imagine some higher power did for our kind.  A vibrant, unashamed, vulnerable, and sensitive life."