In 1991 Mohammed Al Shammarey was not an occasional tourist passing through Amman, nor was he a local looking for a good bargain at wholesale shops wandering through the narrow alleys. His first step upon leaving Baghdad, seeking a direction to an obscure future, took him to Downtown Amman.
On the balcony of The "Hotel Central" he planned an un-chartered journey, to an unknown and remote destination, not knowing where his final steps would lead.
"From that balcony I sat, searching the faces of passers -by, lest I find amongst them a friend who would perhaps, walk beside me."
Day after day, year after year, he became attached to his surroundings, rendering the thought of immigration to somewhere a dream. At this point he decided to start documenting images of Downtown, afraid that he might leave one day without enough memories to nourish his soul. Al Shammarey started accumulating his digital collection of visual memories in 2000.
Al Shammarey finally immigrated to America, and the nostalgia that he felt for Downtown was stronger than he anticipated, it tugged at his memory, reviving familiar corners that he missed in Amman. 'Wasat Al Balad / Downtown' was conceived in Houston, Texas where he tried to rebuild the memories in a portfolio, documenting his fond memories in visual form.
The 6 images in the portfolio evoke a time past, a downtown that is fast disappearing with concrete, plastic and modernization. Like memories, the images are multi layered, where the viewer who knows Al Balad can feel the bustle, smell the aromas and hear the traffic while appreciating the warmth of the city. Constructed with the romantic indulgence of memory and distance, the impressions combine the bustle of the reality with the reflective quiet of memories.
The monochromatic images in warm neutrals, are evocative of the limestone that characterizes the city while reflecting the reminiscence of the images in the artist's mind as an aged photograph forces reflection on a time past.