The latest exhibition in the Art Library is World’s Apart: Photo Essays by Neil Shaw and Hamish King.
You know that classic view at Giza in Egypt, with the three pyramids, and behind them the Sahara stretching to the horizon?
Turn around and you are looking at Cairo. It’s one of the most dramatic frontiers in the world: the edge of the biggest desert on Earth, an emptiness extending over 3.5 million square miles and 11 countries; and right beside it the most populous city in the Arabic world, a bustling, relentless place, home to maybe 20 million people.
In the first part of their exhibition in the Art Library, Neil Shaw examines this disparity, with pictures from a single central Cairo street called Shari Gohar el-Qait set alongside those from the heart of the desert that begins on the city’s doorstep, shot at two locations in Libya, up to 60 miles from the nearest road.
The scenes in the second part of the exhibition, by Hamish King, show us a different kind of contrast, appearing unambiguously rural yet all shot within the city boundary of Edinburgh, sometimes just metres away from streets and houses. Edinburgh is a world apart from Cairo, and while the comparison of its woodland areas with the elegance of the Georgian New Town is somewhat gentler than the move from city to desert, these pictures nevertheless show another side of Edinburgh; less well known, but still important to the city’s character.
Together, in their very different ways and contexts, the photographs displayed in this exhibition are a study of the proximity of otherness, of the idea that you can’t fully understand a place without knowing what lies alongside it.
World’s Apart: Photo Essays runs from 2nd August to 29th September 2016 in the Art Library.