5 minutes with a photographer whose exhibition will take you to Kabul and back

Joe Dowling, a.k.a. 50 percent of gallivanting photography collective Paper Pirates, this week presents his first solo exhibition at Allpress Studio down on Drake Street. Serving as a retrospective of his time spent travelling and working in the Middle East, the images that comprise A Window That Isn’t There have been processed in photo labs located in Iraqi backstreets. The result is a first-hand account of the day to day reality of war-town Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq. To shed some more light on the subject, and what to expect from the exhibition, we threw a few questions Dowling’s way. This is what he came back with:

What drew you to the Middle East? 
“I have a long-standing interest in conflict zones, photojournalism and documentary photography, so the trip’s genesis was around shooting these genres. Also, I love backgammon, and backgammon was invented in the Middle East — it all made sense really.”

What subject matter did you choose to photograph and why?
“My main impetus was to photograph daily life and how people react to conflict and adversity. I shot a lot of (environmental) portraiture and in between did my best to shoot scenes and objects which I observed as allegorical to the narrative I was hearing from the places I visited.”

What camera(s) do you use?
“I shot primarily on a Nikon FM 35mm camera and an old 35mm screw mount Leica.” 

What was your most profound realisation about life in the Middle East?
“That one of my favourite photographs in the show was taken of an Afghan security guard’s hand by accident.”

What do you hope people take away from the exhibition?
“I just hope people find it interesting. I’ve tried to construct my own narrative through the work, but I want people to interpret that themselves.”

*Kicking off tomorrow night at 6pm, A Window That Isn’t There will run from 1st-10th February at the Allpress Studio with support from Brothers Beer and Odyssey Wines.

Allpress Studio

8 Drake Street
Auckland

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