There’s a story about a photographer who for years worked throughout Asia. She’d arrive in each new country with her bags of equipment and find a local fixer to take her to meet her subjects. In each new language she learned the words “Don’t Smile!”, which she’d bark at her subjects before she shot their picture.
After all–smiling is contagious, outwardly carefree, and may remove sentiments of objectivity or hard-hitting news value. There is something about a smiling subject that could suggest inauthenticity or a lack of gravitas in the moment; the very act of smiling seems to soften the drama of an otherwise weighty situation.
A cursory search of archival images by world-renowned VII Photo agency photographers seems to show we often frown upon smiles in our photographs.
The Smile exhibition brings together images of people smiling – most often a taboo expression in photojournalism – into a collection of powerful images gathered during the most important historical events that have shaped the past thirty years. Compiled as a group, they reveal the astonishing range of human behavior that smiles represent.
Pride powers a smile, power emboldens a smile, we smile to seduce or be seduced. But we also smile when we lie, when we’re scared or anxious. In fact, just one variant of the eighteen different smiles recognizes enjoyment, and it’s this universal variant that unites us as human beings.
Smile explores how a seemingly simple action manifests in our world; from the most depressing, violent, dysfunctional and poverty stricken conditions to the warmth and security of joy, affection, love and home. And between those two worlds – of fear and contentment – is the smile we give to the cameras of expression.
VII was created in 2001 by seven of the world’s leading photojournalists and by 2005 VII was listed in third position in American Photo’s “100 Most Important People in Photography.” VII now represents 19 of the world’s preeminent photojournalists whose careers span 35 years of world history.
Renowned for the quality of its photography, the group’s collective archive of over 100,000 images is an iconic summary of the defining landmarks of the late Twentieth Century and it continues to grow as the new Millennium develops. The collection has been built cover-by-cover and page-by-page in collaboration with the world’s leading magazines and as such it defines the visual memory of our times. Time Magazine, The New York Times Magazine, National Geographic, Newsweek, Stern, The Sunday Times Magazine, GEO Germany, Paris Match, Le Monde and others have helped to introduce these images to the world. VII’s cultural position has been cemented by its many exhibitions in leading museums, including the Whitney Museum of Contemporary Art and the Louvre, and featured appearances at major art/photo festivals including Les Rencontres D’Arles, PhotoEspaña and Visa pour l’image. More than 70 books have been dedicated to the work of VII photographers; VII’s work has also been the subject of broadcast documentaries in USA, Europe, Japan and elsewhere.
Opening Night Thu, Feb 4 at 7PM
Exhibition dates Feb 4 – Mar 4, 2016
Gulf Photo Plus
Al Serkal Avenue, Al Quoz