Dazed Digital


Charney Magri and Dennie Pasion

June 20, 2011

The Dubai photographer and make-up artist explores the region's battle between the sexual and sensual

  • Text by Kate Hazell

The first show in a series between Dubai-based photographer Charney Magri and make up artist Dennie Pasion, explores the region's battle between the sexual and sensual. We talk to Charni about being a creative fashion photographer in a conservative country.

Satellite Voices: Can you tell us if you’re exhibiting somewhere with it or tell me more info about it?
Charney Magri: This shoot was the first of its series where the Dubai-based make up artist Dennie Pasion and I began to explore the concept of "Modesty vs Sexuality". It is through this study (and more to follow) where we were free from any restrictions or briefs to inhibit our creativity that we were able to experiment with this concept. Dennie and I plan to continue this exploration over the next six to twelve months. This will culminate in an exhibition of our most powerful images.

SV: Do you find it hard working as a fashion photographer in the Middle East where nudity and expose is a big taboo?
Charney Magri: When I first moved here three years ago, yes. And in some ways I still do. And this is partly why I was so excited about taking on this project with Dennie. Before moving here my fashion and beauty work was too, like many others in London (and worldwide), provocative and uncensored.

To me photography is a form of art. And art is about feelings, emotions, giving your audience a piece of you, not about what type of camera you have, lens or paintbrush you use. And when this creativity became restricted, my worked changed. I felt a total disconnect with something from inside. But this has now eventually become something I’ve embraced and has encouraged me to explore alternate ways of reconnecting.

SV: What do you think the difference between sensuality and sexuality is?
Charney Magri: In relation to photography the difference to me is this. Sensual: A sensual image creates awareness of the senses and certain feelings from within. It is unrestricted yet not exploited or blatantly obvious. Sexual: A sexual image shows the senses what you’re seeing and does not leave much for the imagination. Also unrestricted, it is far more recognisable and obvious of its intentions.

SV: Do you think the ban on nudity in the Middle East stifles creativity?
Charney Magri: Yes and no. When you’re talking about not being able to show below the knees or sections of the shoulder, yes. There is something beautiful about the human body that unfortunately is banned in this region of the world. But when it is bear chests and bodies etc, no. This to me, now, is almost an obvious solution and one that has been done many times before. The more that Dennie and I study and experiment "Modest vs Sexuality", the more clever and creative our solutions become.

SV: How have you adapted your art form from working in the Western World to now working in the Middle East?
Charney Magri: The woman I represent is now less provocative and sexual and more sensual and modest. Still about empowerment, her confidence is oozed in other ways or poses and my use of light has adapted accordingly. If the project allows there will still be some form of undertone, either a message I want to convey or an adaptation of a situation close to me at the time.

SV: How have you created modesty to be more appealing in a consumer world where sex does sell?
Charney Magri: Through the use of light, subtle changes in the movements and poses the model adapts and by covering up what would otherwise in the west be comfortably exposed.

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