Friday 15 May 2020

A Week in Pictures, Middle East and Africa, May 15, 2020

The strong graphic shape of a black circle with a black rectangle in it dominates Muhammed Hamed’s striking picture. What this shape does is to divide the image into two distinctive parts; one isolating the imam’s face and the other filled with the strong colours of the red cushions and purple dresses and the diagonal lines that cut across it. A visual bonus of a small boy behind the Imam is easily missed if you don’t take the extra time to look around these powerful shapes and colours.   

Jordanian Imam Ahmad Al-Harasis speaks to his followers as he broadcasts a Taraweeh prayer live via social media to be connected with his worshippers during the holy fasting month of Ramadan as prayers by worshippers in the holy places are suspended due to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Amman, Jordan May 11, 2020. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed 

Zohra Bensemra’s picture is just heavy with sadness. Without reading the caption we don’t know why this slumped woman is suffering but her body language tells us that she is suffering badly. The stark almost featureless tented room and the empty chair, that acts as a compositional counterweight to the figure, add to the sense of loneliness and isolation.

A local resident waits to be examined after she was isolated due to the symptoms of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), inside an isolation tent for suspected cases at the army field hospital in Touba, Senegal May 1, 2020.   REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra 

When I first saw Sumaya Hisham’s picture I was stopped in my tracks. The tragedy of the scene set in the sweeping landscape is almost epic. The pall-bearers in almost full PPE look cold as they struggle with a heavy coffin in strong winds near the freshly dug grave. But what is most striking is a little less obvious, and it took me a while to understand why I feel an overwhelming sense of emptiness. Even though we see a wide landscape, there are no mourners in this picture to bid this person farewell. They are standing well away because of social distancing. The funeral shows another faceless, nameless death, adding to the increasing toll of coronavirus victims.   

Family members and funeral workers carry the coffin of a 51-year-old man who died from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at a cemetery in Cape Town, South Africa, May 12, 2020. REUTERS/Sumaya Hisham 

Mussa Qawasma must have fought hard to get where he is to shoot this dramatic funeral picture. There is a sea of faces from the foreground to the horizon, but I am struck by the fact that the only person with fair hair is bold in the foreground. Once you notice that you can’t see anything else as your eyes keeps coming back to it.    

Mourners carry the body of Palestinian teenager Zaid Qiseya, who was killed during an Israeli raid, during his funeral at Fawwar refugee camp near Hebron in the Israeli-occupied West Bank May 13, 2020. REUTERS/Mussa Qawasma 

What is going on in Muhammad Hamed’sbusy picture? A partial trompe l’oeil of a cat coming out of a crack in the wall with its eyes closed, looking like Blofeld’s cat, one eye blue and one yellow, peering around the wall and a girl whose mass of hair mirrors the trompe l’oeil hole in the wall. How much more can be crammed into this portrait? Love it. 

Jude Hajjaj, carries her cat near a picture of her cat painted on the wall by her father Osama Hajjaj, who teams up with his neighbours in creating works of art at their roof during the curfew imposed by the Jordanian government amid concerns over the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Amman, Jordan, May 10, 2020.  REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed  

A beautifully lit picture by Njeri Mwangi taking full advance of a shadow cast by the strong light. Just how temping would it be to crop out the figure and the white signage, being careful to leave the all-important detail of the discarded water bottle in frame. Good to consider as it would make a very bold image but I think I prefer the wider image, with the figure in it. Read on here

A girl walks past taps allocated for sanitisation, amid water shortage during the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Nairobi, Kenya May 13, 2020. REUTERS/Njeri Mwangi 

A girl walks past taps allocated for sanitisation, amid water shortage during the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Nairobi, Kenya May 13, 2020. REUTERS/Njeri Mwangi 

Mohamed Abd El Ghany’s picture is really a simple detail image of an ear of wheat to illustrate an agriculture production story. But what he has managed to do in one frame is combine both a close up and a vista of wheat harvesting: the ear of wheat, a man toiling with a bundle of the crop and the field itself. This, together with the beautiful warm glow of yellow and gold colours set against the blue sky, makes for a terrific image to illustrate an economic story, something that is not easy to do. If you are interested in wheat production in Egypt read on here.

A farmer carries a bundle of wheat after harvesting it from a field in the Gharbia Governorate, as Egypt ramps up efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Egypt May 14, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany 

I just can’t get thoughts of robotic dancing out of my head when looking at Mohamed Torokman’s slightly bizarre picture. One man has his eyes covered, another his nose and mouth, and both are standing in an open field. Is it the position of the arms and straightness of the fingers? Did you notice the gloves are different colours? Or is it the upward tilt of the head that gives me this sense? Either way a truly intriguing image and I am desperate to see what he is looking at through his VR goggles. Read on here 

A man wearing a Virtual Reality (VR) device tries Palestine VR, a free app created by Salem Barahmeh (L) to give virtual tours of Palestinian towns and villages, in Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank April 23, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman 

And only because I love the fight the human spirit has to offer arts, beauty and creative imagination in times of adversity I add some mask fashion from Temilade Adelaja. See the story here

Nigerian style influencer, Angel Obasi, 24, poses for a picture with a fabric protective face mask on, with colours matching her clothes, following the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Lagos, Nigeria May 14, 2020. REUTERS/Temilade Adelaja

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