"Elise In A Kuwaiti Thobe"
As people have lives, so do their cities and countries. They flow through times of prosperity and of need, of contentment and of sorrow, of progress and of regression. However, it is the prime of life past that we each long for. Similar to an old man that gazes longingly at his young manhood, a city desires to return to a time marked by a happy simplicity.Kuwait was once quickly ushered into a time of economic and cultural growth. Evidence of this cherished time can still be seen in the beautiful architecture, landmarks, and monuments that were created. Sadly, many of these once treasured structures have since been demolished or succumbed to neglect. This too plays out in the lives of people. A beautiful youthful optimism yields to cynicism and soon disappears. The idyllic life at the “Pearl of the Gulf” becomes only a memory and that too is fading. More is lost, however, than mere memories of a time past. Importantly, a collective and individual identity is steadily being erased.In this series of photographs by Mohammed Alkouh, a young woman named Elise is an imagined tourist to a real time and place. She strolls through the streets of Kuwait and happens upon a photography studio. There is Elise models before the camera in a beautiful Kuwaiti “Thobe”, a garment new to her, fascinated with the rich local culture.The eyes of a tourist or traveler are something special. Recall a time you had traveled to an unfamiliar locale. The buildings, sounds of languages and accents, smells of food, texture of unfamiliar clothing - all enchanting and new. This series of photographs allows us to be tourists to our own past, to experience it all anew as a charmed visitor.Elise’s simple trip to a studio typifies this peacefully simpler period. With modernity we’ve inherited a fickle attention, a lack of cultural identity, and an exhaustingly fast-paced lifestyle . However, the Kuwait Elise visited was a period of time when taking a photograph sufficed to make one happy, a time when we were easily contented and content often. Life took place at a pace slow enough to enjoy and make important personal connections. In a way, one is able to travel back in time to this place through art such as these images. The photographs of Elise serve as more than a depiction of a past time - they are an invitation to return. "Elise In A Kuwaiti Thobe"Hand Colored Gelatin Silver PrintMinneapolis - 2012