Farah Al Qasimi’s first photographs were of the dreary New Haven winter: reflections in water, a dead cat, an angry dog. She was an undergraduate at the Yale School of Art, where in 2017 she also received her M.F.A. Since then, Al Qasimi has turned her lens to more vibrant urban environments, making sometimes staged, sometimes spontaneous photographs of daily life in the United Arab Emirates. The images in Miracle Garden were taken in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Ras al-Khaimah, where Al Qasimi’s family is from. Here, as elsewhere in her work, simulations of natural phenomena—floral and leopard-print fabrics, astroturf sold by the square meter, fake roses on the blinged-out dashboard of a truck whose driver proudly swung open his door for the camera—are juxtaposed with real plants and animals, like the purple petunias in Dubai’s vast flower garden, or the densely packed vegetation in a plant store. Al Qasimi’s environments, rich with ornamentation, are at once attractive and claustrophobic. She is struck by the lack of windows in the spaces of commerce she documents. The mall wants you to see only what it shows you. Its illusions are Al Qasimi’s images.




All photos courtesy of Farah Al Qasimi.