A South African and Puerto Rican photography partnership, based out of Dubai, weave together a local and expatriate vision of the Gulf State in a new exhibition.
Doha-based artists Christto and Andrew forming their artistic union in 2012. In that time, they have worked across photography, mixed media and film,
The partnership is motivated by the desire to create “strong statements [that] challenge stereotypes” surrounding their new home in the Gulf region, and the lifestyle associated with Dubai culture.
They do this by producing “a stream of hyperrealism”, a sometimes conspicuous, garish use of portraiture, acerbic in its humour.
“Traditional ideas about photography have been continually stretched with the advent of new tools and methodsin the industry, including widespread uses of appropriation and performance, paving the way for radical changes in how we conceive of this art form. Christto & Andrew are part of this artistic movement bent on toppling long-held structures,” the gallery said in a statement.
The pair received international attention through their inclusion in Foam Magazine’s Talent Issue in 2014.
“Parataxic Distortion is a fantasy of what something should be, an expectation growing out of the emotional stress of living, resulting in the generating of stereotypes; a pigeonholing of individuals to gain quick and, often inaccurate, assessments causing distortions of reality,” the artists say of their work.
Christto Sanz, born in 1985, received a BA from the School of Fine Arts, Puerto Rico before completing his Master in Visual Communication & photography from Elisava, Spain. Andrew Weir, born 1987, holds a BBA from Universtitat Ramon Llull, Spain and an MA in Museum & Gallery Practice from University College London.
“As jigsaw puzzles piece together to a form a visual image, the sedimentation of symbols within Christto & Andrew’s photographs reveal the affects of history, politics, the economy and popular culture into the construction of contemporary society specifically found in the Gulf region. Using Qatar as an example, exaggerated colours, staged compositions and uncanny humour hightlight this constant development, and the malleable state of transformations into which its multitude of lifestyles are nurtured and interact,” Misha Michael writes.
“In the same way, scavenged objects are transformed into cement moulds and regular people into models through photography to subvert and further notions of value, commodification and occupation. As a result, each object and character within their photographs become symbolic refelections of these stratifications found in Qatari society.
“Christto and Andrew’s images, therefore, do not to critcise but rather hightlight two parallel dialogues-a local one and an expatriate one, which equally weave together this complex network of cultures and subcultures evident in most Gulf and MENA contexts.”