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Farah Al Qasimi: Back and Forth Disco

Farah Al Qasimi: Back and Forth Disco

About the Exhibition

Back and Forth Disco is an exhibition of newly-commissioned photographs by Farah Al Qasimi (b. 1991 Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates) that celebrate individuality and the aesthetic choices that make spaces and surroundings uniquely personal. The 17 photographs in this new body of work isolate and highlight the beauty of seemingly inconspicuous moments amidst New York City’s visual and audible noise. Presented on 100 bus shelters across the five boroughs, the larger than life photographs are inserted into the paths of New York City commuters at eye level. Works are sited in clusters in over 18 neighborhoods to give the public an opportunity to see multiple photographs within walking or bus route distance. The bus shelters—platforms traditionally used for advertising—bring together images of people, street scenes, interiors, and surfaces to explore the experience of being an individual in a hyper-stimulating city.

Al Qasimi has developed a photographic style that reads distinctly as her own, yet is continuously evolving. Over a month-long period in fall 2019, for the first time, Al Qasimi took New York City as her subject, primarily focusing on local communities where small businesses thrive. She has photographed neighborhood stores, barbershops, streets, and homes from Astoria, Queens to Chinatown, Manhattan to Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Drawn to the idea of visual excess, rich textures, and brightly saturated colors—familiar to her from growing up in the Emirates—Al Qasimi captures vibrant instances of self-expression. The works highlight individual style and cultural traditions that break through the chaos and anonymity of the city. Central to Bodega Chandelier is an elaborate crystal light fixture that dominates the ceiling of a Yemeni-owned bodega in Ridgewood, Queens, dwarfing the products on display. In Parked Car, garlands of artificial flowers from an Indian wedding decorate a polished gray car in Al Qasimi’s neighborhood.

Al Qasimi’s portraiture challenges traditional ideas associated with figuration by utilizing elements of camouflage, concealment, and revelation. Her process is both spontaneous and deliberate. She photographs friends and strangers alike, often returning to familiar places repeatedly or recreating moments she has seen in public space in more controlled environments. Her enigmatic portraits demonstrate her approach to the genre: the faces of her subjects are partially obstructed or altogether absent, while their vitality is instead accentuated through garments, hairstyles, and poses. In Woman in Leopard Print, a single eye is revealed through a reflection in a compact mirror as the woman in a leopard-print headscarf studies herself. In Coco, a cockatoo who resides at a curtain store in Ridgewood, Queens is paid a visit by regulars in the neighborhood. A young boy looks at the bird but his eyes are hidden by his mother’s extended arm, allowing other features—such as the woman’s bright red nails—to become the focal point. The photographs in Back and Forth Disco aim to draw out expressive details that spark recognition within communities. Acts of adornment, both to oneself and to the city, highlight the idiosyncrasies and beauty in environments that are often overlooked.

 

Farah Al Qasimi: Back and Forth Disco is curated by Public Art Fund Assistant Curator, Katerina Stathopoulou.


"5 Star Barber Shop"

3rd Ave between Bay Ridge Parkway and 74th St, Brooklyn (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Woman in Leopard Print"

Bay Ridge Parkway between 4th Ave and 5th Ave, Brooklyn (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Mannequins"

Bay Ridge Parkway between Fort Hamilton Parkway and 10th Ave, Brooklyn (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Everything Must Go"

Fort Hamilton Parkway between 74th St and Bay Ridge Parkway, Brooklyn (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Parked Car"

86th St between 13th Ave and 14th Ave, Brooklyn (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Blanket Shop"

86th St between 13th Ave and 14th Ave, Brooklyn (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Grace Beauty Salon" | "Bodega Chandelier"

Bay Ridge Parkway between 14th Ave and 13th Ave, Brooklyn (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Ceiling Mirror" | "Flower Shop"

(Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Coco" | "Dollar Store"

Graham Ave between Grand St and Maujer St, Brooklyn (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Parked Car" | "Grace Beauty Salon"

Graham Ave between Ainslie St and Powers St, Brooklyn (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Everything Must Go" | "Bakery Window"

Lorimer St between Montrose Ave and Boerum St, Brooklyn (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Woman on Phone"

Lorimer St between Boerum St and Montrose Ave, Brooklyn (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Bodega Chandelier"

Atlantic Ave between 4th Ave and 3rd Ave, Brooklyn (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Woman in Leopard Print"

Atlantic Ave between 4th Ave and 3rd Ave, Brooklyn (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"East Broadway Mall"

Bowery between Prince St and Rivington St, Manhattan (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Woman on Phone"

E Houston between 2nd Ave and Bowery, Manhattan (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Coco"

E Houston between 1st Ave and 2nd Ave, Manhattan (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"5 Star Barber Shop" | "Blanket Shop"

E Houston between Ave B and Suffolk St, Manhattan (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Bodega Chandelier"

Ave A between E 5th St and E 6th St, Manhattan (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Ceiling Mirror"

Grand St between Pitt St and Ridge St, Manhattan (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Bakery Window"

Grand St between Jackson St and Columbia St, Manhattan (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Bleached Sign"

Grand St between Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive and Lewis St, Manhattan (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Parked Car"

Delancey St between Lewis St and Columbia St, Manhattan (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Dollar Store" | "Grace Beauty Salon"

Ave C between E 5th St and E 6th St, Manhattan (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Woman in Leopard Print"

Ave C between E 5th St and E 6th St, Manhattan (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Bodega Chandelier"

W 10th St between Washington St and West St, Manhattan (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Coco"

Hudson St between Christopher St and W 10th St, Manhattan (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"5 Star Barber Shop" | "Mannequins"

West St between W 10th St and Christopher St, Manhattan (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Grace Beauty Salon"

Hudson St between Perry St and W 11th St, Manhattan (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Dollar Store"

6th Ave between Prince St and King St, Manhattan (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Woman on Phone"

6th Ave between W 10th St and W 11th St, Manhattan (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Woman in Leopard Print"

6th Ave between Minetta Lane and W 3rd St, Manhattan (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Ceiling Mirror" | "Bleached Sign"

Broadway between W 91st and W 92nd St, Manhattan (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Woman on Phone"

Broadway between W 91st and W 92nd St, Manhattan (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Woman in Leopard Print"

Amsterdam Ave between W 96th St and W 97th St, Manhattan (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Blanket Shop"

W 96 St between Amsterdam Ave and Columbus Ave, Manhattan (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Yankees Fan" | "Flower Shop"

W 96 St between Columbus Ave and Central Park West, Manhattan (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Mannequins"

W 96 St between Central Park West and Columbus Ave, Manhattan (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Bakery Window" | "East Broadway Mall"

Broadway between W 99th St and W 100th St, Manhattan (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Yankees Fan"

W 116th St between 5th Ave and Malcolm X Blvd, Manhattan (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Blanket Shop"

5th Ave between W 115th St and W 116th St, Manhattan (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"East Broadway Mall" | "Bakery Window"

E 116th St between Madison Ave and 5th Ave, Manhattan (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Bleached Sign" | "Everything Must Go"

E 116th St between Madison Ave and Park Ave, Manhattan (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"5 Star Barber Shop"

E 116th St between Park Ave and Lexington Ave, Manhattan (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Ceiling Mirror" | "Flower Shop"

E 116th St between 3rd Ave and Lexington Ave, Manhattan (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Parked Car"

E 116th St between 3rd Ave and 2nd Ave, Manhattan (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Mannequins" | "Dollar Store"

2nd Ave between E 97 St and E 99 St, Manhattan (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Grace Beauty Salon" | "Coco"

E 96th St between 2nd Ave and 3rd Ave, Manhattan (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Bodega Chandelier"

21st St between Broadway and 31st Drive, Queens (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"East Broadway Mall"

21st St between 41st Ave and 40th Ave, Queens (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Mannequins"

21st St between Queens Plaza North and 41st Ave, Queens (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Everything Must Go" | "5 Star Barber Shop"

21st St between Broadway and 32nd Ave, Queens (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Dollar Store" | "Ceiling Mirror"

30th Ave between 14th St and 21st St, Queens (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Mannequins" | "East Broadway Mall"

21st Ave between 24th Drive and Hoyt Ave, Queens (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Coco" | "Parked Car"

35th Ave between 31st St and 32nd St, Queens (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Bleached Sign" | "Yankees Fan"

35th Ave between 31st St and 30th St, Queens (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Flower Shop"

35th Ave between Steinway St and 38th St, Queens (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Bakery Window"

35th Ave between 35th St and 34th St, Queens (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Woman On Phone"

21st St between 41st Ave and 40th Ave, Queens (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Bleached Sign" | "Blanket Shop"

21st St between Astoria Blvd and 27th Road, Queens (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Woman In Leopard Print"

21st St between 27th Road and 28th Ave, Queens (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Flower Shop"

21st St between 30th Drive and 30th Road, Queens (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Blanket Shop"

E 138th St between Alexander Ave and Willis Ave, Bronx (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Bleached Sign"

3rd Ave between E 154th St and E 153th St, Bronx (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Everything Must Go"

3rd Ave between E 156th St and E 155th St, Bronx (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Bodega Chandelier"

3rd Ave between E 154th St and E 153th St, Bronx (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Yankees Fan"

E 138th St between Willis Ave and Brown Place, Bronx (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"East Broadway Mall"

3rd Ave between Westchester Ave and E 151st St, Bronx (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Parked Car"

Willis Ave between E 137th St and E 138th St, Bronx (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Coco"

3rd Ave between E 144th and E 145th St, Bronx (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Dollar Store"

Lincoln Ave between E 138th St and E 137th St, Bronx (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Woman On Phone"

E 138th St between 3rd Ave and Alexander Ave, Bronx (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"5 Star Barber Shop"

3rd Ave between E 148th St and E 149th St, Bronx (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Grace Beauty Salon"

Bay Street between Vanderbilt Ave and Norwood Ave, Staten Island (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Bakery Window" | "Ceiling Mirror"

Bay Street between St Marys St Ave and Virginia Ave, Staten Island (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Flower Shop"

Vanderbilt Ave between Talbot Place and Errington Place, Staten Island (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

"Yankees Fan"

Tompkins Ave between Vanderbilt Ave and Hill St, Staten Island (Directions)

Farah Al Qasimi, 2019 Courtesy the artist; Helena Anrather, New York; and The Third Line, Dubai.

Image Gallery

About the Artist

Farah Al Qasimi (b.1991, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; lives and works in Brooklyn and Dubai) works in photography, video, and performance. Her work has been featured in exhibitions at Jameel Arts Centre, Dubai; the San Francisco Arts Commission, San Francisco; the CCS Bard Galleries at the Hessel Museum of Art, New York; Helena Anrather, New York; The Third Line, Dubai; The List Visual Arts Center at MIT, Cambridge; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Toronto; and the Houston Center for Photography, Houston. Al Qasimi received her MFA from the Yale School of Art. She has participated in residencies at the Delfina Foundation, London; the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Maine; and is a recipient of the New York NADA Artadia Prize and the Aaron Siskind Individual Photographer’s Fellowship. Her work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge; and NYU’s Grey Art Gallery, New York.

About the Series

This is the second exhibition in the collaboration between Public Art Fund and JCDecaux, which brings two solo exhibitions each year to 100 JCDecaux bus shelters citywide. The exhibitions create a continuously evolving platform to bring artistic voices to street level for all New Yorkers, enabling the public to encounter multiple images along their daily routes by bus or on foot. The initial iterations serve as spaces to showcase the work of photographers, who have been invited to create topical new bodies of work in New York City. In August 2019, this partnership was inaugurated with Elle Pérez: from sun to sun; the collaboration between Public Art Fund and JCDecaux builds on the nonprofit’s rich history of transforming the city’s ubiquitous advertising spaces, including the seminal exhibition series Messages to the Public (1982-90), Commercial Break (2017), and Ai Weiwei: Good Fences Make Good Neighbors (2017), and it is a core program by which JCDecaux engages with its local communities.