Dazed Digital


Documenting Memory with Raja'a Khalid

April 12, 2011

The 26-year-old photographer celebrating the unusual

  • Text by Simone Sebastian

Raja’a Khalid is the 26-year-old photographer whose love for medium-format film has resulted in various romantic, poetic and sympathetic portraits of the world around her. Inspired by the imagination of the New Colour movement of the 70s and influenced by her own lifelong expatriate status, Raja’a has become a champion of the the ‘odd and silently unusual’ in a city she admits she recognises less and less every day.

Satellite Voices: How would you describe your practice?
Raja'a Khalid:
I like to use my lifelong expat status as a foundation for almost all of my photography work. When I'm working with Dubai, it's usually the transitory nature of the city I like to explore. Lately I've turned my attention to Pakistan, my home country (though I've never actually lived there); for those projects I like to use found images and existing vernacular Pakistani sources because that really describes the distance one has from their roots when one's an expat.

SV: How long have you lived in Dubai and how much does the city influence your work?
Raja'a Khalid:
I've lived here for 20 years and really experienced it growing around me. After I returned to Dubai from art school in the UK, the initial shock of how fast the city was evolving really grabbed me and I worked on photographing the spatial practices and strange and identifiable spaces and products within the Dubai cityscape. At that point the city was the pulse of my work.

SV: In your "Still Life" series, you focus on the city's 'unspectacular' objects and spaces. Have any resonated with you more than the rest?
Raja'a Khalid:
Since they're all very individual some images do resonate more than others. The water fountains are interesting to me because they're part of Dubai's quirky side, each fountain seems to have its own personality. They're part of the fabric of this city.

SV: Are you working on any interesting projects at the moment?
Raja'a Khalid:
I've moved away from Dubai for a while and at the moment I'm looking a lot at found imagery through magazines, the internet, Facebook, Google and re-photographing found imagery through a variety of screens. Screens dominate our photo-viewing habits now and I'm currently looking at how they inflict their own regime in our photographs through light, colour and texture.

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