Ben Soedira: The Skinny Showcase

A look at the work of Glasgow-based photographer Ben Soedira, and his Foreign Sands project focused on his home city of Dubai

Feature by The Skinny | 11 Jan 2018

Ben Soedira’s Foreign Sands is an exploration into what constitutes 'home.' Having lived in a country foreign to his parents' background, Soedira has been surrounded by the modernisation of culture and people. This photographic body of work uses the metaphor of the landscape to visually express the growth and development through which people have influenced a city, in this case Dubai.

This is a city purely built on foreign elements, from imported sand to manipulating its own natural resources in order to seamlessly make the impossible. Dubai became the perfect subject to speak about globalisation issues along with a contemporary world. The photographic body displays metaphors that subtly show this, through images of clothing that blend within the natural landscape, to the growing community of Kushti wrestlers fighting for a piece of home. Images of sand and dust speak about the desert and its ever-shifting landscape much like Dubai itself. Dubai becomes a reflection of a globalised society, a place that has become influenced and built up on foreign cultures.

What can only be described as ‘urban amnesia’ occurs; as the city begins to rapidly move forward we begin to forget what is truly important – the people that have shifted the direction and meaning of home, by creating their very own communities and life that remain with them despite the city’s movement. For Soedira this poses a question on what he constitutes as home and identity.

"Dubai is home for me despite it officially on paper being Glasgow; the work visually in many people’s eyes may seem quite foreign. However I do feel like everyone can relate to it in some way, as we more and more begin to question our identity daily. Our access to the world becomes easier and we dream of moving away to set up home somewhere else, leading us to question, where am I from? And what truly is home for me? And with a city changing daily I struggle to recognise and associate myself with a place, a place where I feel strangely foreign but at the same time very comfortable. Yet with all this in motion it excites me to see my home shift and expand in new directions; a place that allows all cultures and nationalities to embody something from their own motherland to this new home."

Ben Soedira graduated from GSA Fine Art Photography in 2017. His work is currently on display in Futureproof 2017, Street Level Photoworks, Glasgow, until 4 February

Follow Ben on Instagram at @bensoedira