The Open Road

Artist Blog by Eman Ali

For my second blog post, I wanted to share another glimpse into my series titled The Earth Would Die If The Sun Stopped Kissing Her. These particular images I have selected from the collection of 100 photographs focus mainly on landscapes shot during the day on my road trips around Oman, my homeland that I am constantly inspired to explore.

Road trips have always been a favorite pastime of mine - a chance to embark on spontaneous adventures and embrace the unknown. It's in these moments that I find beauty in the ordinary, appreciating the often overlooked everyday experiences. This approach allows me to strike a balance with my more research-focused works, offering a sense of freedom and creative spontaneity.

During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in London, when physical travel seemed impossible, I sought solace in the pages of Jack Kerouac's "On the Road,” a favorite in my library. Although my body was confined to Dalston, my mind embarked on an exhilarating journey across America. The allure of the great American road trip, pulsating with life and brimming with the promise of liberation, deep connections and hedonism, resonated within the depths of my being during those challenging times. It ignited a spark of wanderlust, and my imagination danced with images of an epic road trip through Oman, one that embraced spirituality over indulgence, accompanied only by my camera and a curated playlist that would set the mood for my adventures. While I couldn't physically hit the open road during those uncertain times, I discovered an unexpected sense of liberation through a symbolic act - I shaved my head. It became a personal declaration of freedom amidst the confinement, a testament to the transformative power of Kerouac's words and the inspiration they ignited within me.

As the pandemic engulfed the world, I returned back to Oman searching for relief and a renewed sense of self amidst the chaos. I sought refuge on the open roads. Armed with my camera, I embarked on countless drives, each journey a step towards reclaiming a sense of normalcy. The streets stretched out before me, hauntingly empty. Signs of life were scarce, fleeting moments that seemed to disappear as quickly as they appeared. It was a strange and surreal experience, witnessing the vast emptiness that enveloped my surroundings. The world seemed suspended, frozen in time, as if holding its breath. But amidst the eerie stillness, I found a connection - an intimate dialogue between myself and the deserted landscapes. In those solitary moments, I discovered a profound sense of freedom, a glimpse of serenity within the chaos.

I've always believed that one of the greatest gifts we can offer each other is the space to be heard, truly listening to ourselves and those around us. Photography, for me, is a powerful tool for creating that space - to tune in to the subtleties and nuances that often go unnoticed. Somewhere in my readings, I came across a profound notion that praying is a form of speaking to God, while meditation is a way of listening to God. This idea deeply resonated with me and has stayed with me ever since. Photography for me is a form of meditation, a means to deepen my understanding of both myself and the world. Through the lens, I find a way to listen and connect.

As I reflect on the collection as a whole, I am struck by the emergence of two distinct worlds. On one hand, there are empty landscapes basking under the stark Middle Eastern sun, marked by the traces of life that once thrived within them. These scenes evoke a sense of solitude, frozen in time. On the other hand, there are the intimate moments of people in closer settings, where the focus shifts to the human experience and our longing for connection (see my Artist Feature). In both cases, whether immersed in the vastness of nature or captured in the intimacy of human interactions, my soul yearns for those profound connections that bind us together.

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