Island of the Colour Blind

picislandPingelap, a tiny island in the Pacific Ocean is lush with natural colours — azure blue waters, green palms and white sandy beaches. But the biggest irony is that almost 10 per cent of Pingelap’s inhabitants are colourblind. They suffer from achromatopsia, a condition that makes people sensitive to light, results in poor vision and inability to distinguish colours. Legend has it that a typhoon swept over Pingelap in the 18th century  and wiped away most of its residents. The only survivor was the king, who suffered from achromatopsia. He passed the gene to the island’s future generations, earning the atoll the name ‘Island of the Colourblind’.

When Belgian photographer Sanne De Wilde, first heard of Pingelap, she was deeply fascinated by the island’s unique residents. She spent a month in Pingelap and neighbouring Pohnpei in 2015 to understand the Pingelapese sense of colour. Curious to let people know how colourblinds perceive colour she experimented with infrared and shot in monochrome on her digital camera. The result was an eerie burst of light. Sanne compiled her research and presented them in a photobook titled Island of the Colorblind.


Sanne’s book is part of the ongoing Photo Book exhibition at Gulf Photo Plus, Dubai, that runs till August 31, 2018. Contemporary photographers from North Africa, Middle East and South Asia are exhibiting in the show. At a talk organised by GPP Sanne shared her experiences of photographing the Pingelapese.


“The sun need not be yellow, it can be purple. I wanted people to see different perceptions of the world we live in. I conducted my research by shooting in black and white to see how the achromatics see the tropical environment in shades of black and white. In my pics I focus on their eyes and head. I also invited Belgian and Dutch achromats to paint on my black and white images, to showcase different perspectives.” Who would have thought there is an entire island where people see the world in shades of grey! An interesting talk and a revelation for me.


Memories, Outdoors

HER – an exhibition by Matilde Gattoni

Gulf Photo Plus, Al Quoz, is showcasing an exhibition of photographs titled HER by award winning photo journalist Matilde Gattoni till Oct 31. Photographer Matilde Gattoni’s career has spanned 15 years in which she has travelled to over 35 countries and four continents. She has encountered and photographed thousands of women from all over the world — from war refugees in Kenya, Lebanon, Syria to Tsunami survivors in Indonesia to women accused as witches in India. Matilde shares that even though the stories of these women are disparate they all are symbols of courage and resilience. Shunned by their countries the women are the backbone of their families.


Rabiah, a Syrian immigrant was photographed by Matilde in Lebanon in 2012. Then only aged 15 she had left school and a life of fear to escape to a new country. Syrian women at that time had lived in constant fear of being killed and kidnapped. “I wake up crying and screaming,” she had said, remembering her constant nightmares.

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Forty four year old Bhudni Tudu cannot cope with what happened to her. “I don’t have any hope for the future. I want to kill myself,” she said. A resident of Birbans, Jharkhand, India, Bhudni was accused of witchcraft by her family and forced to flee the village.


Matilde captured this young lady enjoying a splash in the sea in Indonesia, where the Tsunami had made most residents fearful of venturing into the sea.


Matilde’s exhibition featuring many such women is a tribute to their bravery in times of insurmountable challenges during wars, natural calamities and prejudices.

Art, Outdoors

RAWIYA collective photo exhibition

Images from the Middle East most often portray strife and violence streaked with blood and tears. But the Rawiya Collective, a female photographers group from the Middle East, brings images of happy faces, slices of everyday life and the promise of education for women. This exhibition titled ‘She who tells a story’opened at Gulf Photo Plus, Al Quoz, Dubai, on September 9 and is on till October 16.


Laura Boushnak presents here a selection from her series ‘I Read I Write: Yemen – access to education’. Her subjects are all women – the first members in their families to pursue higher education.


Myriam Abdelaziz’s series ‘Cairo Dances’ offers an intimate portrait of Egyptian belly dancers.


Tanya Habjouqa’s ‘Occupied Pleasures’ – shows families on picnics, children swimming, young girls preparing for a party, women practicing yoga or attending a wedding.


Tamara Abdul Hadi did an interactive exercise, wherein the individuals who were photographed had the ability to control their own image and decide how to represent themselves.

* All images are mine. Please do not copy.