Othman Ali was a photographer born in 1955 in Dubai, he died in 1990 aged just 35 years old. Last year his daughter, Yazmine Othman, who is now based in Bristol, took on the task of archiving his large catalog of photography; many of them undeveloped and never seen before. Using the internet and social media she is introducing his photographs to an entirely new audience and the reception they’re receiving is very much a positive one - We caught up with Yazmine to find out why she started the project and why photographs taken over two decades ago, in a foreign country, are being so well received.
Words by Toni Hankinson
The experience has been a learning curve for Yazmine- the photographs had to be digitally scanned, negatives had to be scanned and developed, her fundraiser campaign required a strong online presence and she tells me of how she’s starting to get to grips with the curatorial aspect of exhibiting the work. Whilst the crowd funding campaign wasn’t wholly successful it got the ball rolling- with interest in collaborations coming from both home and abroad. Prints and t-shirts of Othman Ali’s work are now available to buy online and in pop-up shops around Bristol and future plans include an exhibition both here and abroad.
Discussing their appeal to a modern audience Yazmine explains the difference in reaction here in the UK and in Dubai. Having little or no cultural connection we can view them as a window to a different culture and time. They’re undoubtedly intriguing images, and without historical context those seeing the images have projected their own views and ideas based on what they see; Yazmine mentions one friend in particular that sought out religious reference. Commenting on the descriptions she has written for the photographs she adds “it’s difficult not to add my own perspective and meaning”; there are certainly benefits to doing this as it can keep the original idea intact but as I mention this Yazmine rightly corrects me; “I don’t know what my Dad was thinking when he took the pictures”. She goes on to tell me that her own perspectives have been altered along the way - the comments and reactions to the photographs seem to have become a part of the project too.