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A photography project examining the social landscape of Dubai, with an eye toward the transitory and impermanent nature of the city.

The Project

The Ephemeral City is a photography project that focuses on the urban spaces, architecture, and social landscape of the city of Dubai.  To this end, I'm planning a three-week photo trip to Dubai in December 2012.  The outcomes of the trip will be:

  • a series of photographs exploring the social landscape of Dubai.
  • a photobook featuring images from the series.
  • a series of prints, suitable for exhibition.

Rationale

As a photographer, I'm interested in liminal zones - boundary areas, edges, and frontier regions - and the tensions that mark them.  In my photographs, I explore the features of these zones in an attempt to trace the arc of change and to map relationships between people and place.

So Why Dubai?

In many ways, Dubai can be understood as a liminal city.  While most cities have developed organically in settled areas over hundreds or thousands of years, Dubai seems to have sprung from the earth fully formed in the last 40 years or so.  Indeed, as recently as 1982, most of what is now metropolitan Dubai was just barren desert; in just 38 years (from 1968 to 2005), the city's population increased from 59,000 to more than 1.2 million. 

Dubai's history is not one of permanence or settlement, but of transience; like most liminal zones, Dubai is primarily a place that people pass through, not a place where people stay.  For thousands of years before Dubai blossomed into a metropolis in the late 20th century, this forbidding (and largely empty) swath of the Arabian desert served not as the location of a settlement, but instead as a meeting place - as an outpost and hub for trade.  And despite its recent (and explosive) population growth and the construction boom that accompanied it, Dubai’s population remains largely transitory; as of 2005, just 17% of the city’s residents were UAE nationals.  The remainder are expatriates (primarily from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and the Philippines), who come to Dubai temporarily to work.

In general, I’m interested in the ways in which the urban spaces and social landscape of modern Dubai reflect its ephemeral nature.

How I Plan To Work

On my three-week photo trip to China in 2011, I spent roughly 16 hours per day (for 18 days straight) making photographs, shot roughly 6000 frames, and slept about six hours per night. I plan to work at a similar pace in Dubai. 

Nanjing, China | November 2011
Nanjing, China | November 2011
Nanjing, China | November 2011
Nanjing, China | November 2011
Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China | December 2011
Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China | December 2011

(You can see more images from my 2011 China trip here.)

The goal of this Kickstarter project is to raise sufficient funds to cover airfare, lodging, ground transportation, and meals for the trip.  Any funds raised beyond the target amount will go toward improving the project (e.g., hiring a local guide, renting additional lenses, improving rewards, etc.)

Despite Dubai's reputation for glitz and glamor, I won't be living large on this trip; I'll be flying economy class, staying in the cheapest reasonable accommodations I can find, walking or riding the Metro around the city to make photographs, and eating as inexpensively as possible.  I'm imagining myself making turkey sandwiches in my hotel room for three weeks, and I'm totally cool with that. 

The Prints

To make the prints offered as rewards for this project, I'll be using White House Custom Colour.  WHCC is the professional print lab I use for nearly all of my prints, including the prints for my 2012 solo exhibition A Lesser Light

The Book

The book offered as a reward for this project will be printed as both a softcover and as a limited-edition hardcover.  The book will be 10" x 8", roughly 60 pages long, and will feature approximately 50 photographs.  The limited-edition hardcover will be signed and numbered by the photographer, and will be limited to a print run of just 100 books.

How You Can Participate

  • Share the link for this project via email or social media.
  • Back the project, reserve your reward: Make a pledge!

Thank You

Thanks in advance for checking out the video, for backing the project, and for sharing the link.  I'm really looking forward to making this trip, and I appreciate your interest and support!

Thank you,

-jason-

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  • Pledge $10 or more
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    7 backers

    You'll receive: A custom project-themed postcard mailed to you from Dubai during the trip + backer recognition on the promotional website

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    4 backers

    You'll receive: A set of 5 postcards featuring unique images from the project + backer recognition on the promotional website. (For shipping outside the United States, please add $5.)

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    You'll receive: A 15-minute Skype conversation with photographer during the trip + your name featured on a special Kickstarter "Thank You" page in the book + custom postcard mailed from Dubai + backer recognition on the promotional website.

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  • Pledge $75 or more
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    4 backers

    You'll receive: A signed copy of the softcover photobook + your name featured on a special Kickstarter "Thank You" page in the book + custom postcard from Dubai + backer recognition on the promotional website. (For shipping outside the United States, please add $15.)

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  • Pledge $100 or more
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    4 backers

    You'll receive: One signed 10x15" print of your choice from the series + your name featured on a special Kickstarter "Thank You" page in the book + custom postcard mailed from Dubai + backer recognition on the promotional website. (For shipping outside the United States, please add $15.)

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    You'll receive: One signed 12x18" print of your choice from the series + your name featured on a special Kickstarter "Thank You" page in the book + custom postcard mailed from Dubai + backer recognition on the promotional website. (For shipping outside the United States, please add $20.)

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  • Pledge $250 or more
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    2 backers Limited (18 left of 20)

    You'll receive: A signed, numbered copy of the limited-edition hardcover photobook (edition size: 100) + your name featured on a special Kickstarter "Thank You" page in the book + custom postcard from Dubai + backer recognition on the promotional website. (For shipping outside the United States, please add $15.)

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  • Pledge $500 or more
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    0 backers

    You'll receive: Three signed 12x18" prints of your choice from the series + your name featured on a special Kickstarter "Thank You" page in the book + custom postcard mailed from Dubai + backer recognition on the promotional website. (For shipping outside the United States, please add $20.)

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  • Pledge $750 or more
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    1 backer Limited (4 left of 5)

    You'll receive: Everything! A signed, numbered copy of the limited-edition hardcover photobook (edition size: 100) + three signed 12x18" prints of your choice from the series + a set of 5 postcards featuring unique images from the project + a 15-minute Skype conversation with photographer during the trip + your name featured on a special Kickstarter "Thank You" page in the book + custom postcard mailed from Dubai + backer recognition on the promotional website. (For shipping outside the United States, please add $35.)

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  • Pledge $1,500 or more
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    0 backers Limited (3 left of 3)

    In Dubai, or nearby? You'll receive: Everything at the $750 level, plus a reward of your choice from the following: 1) an on-location portrait session with Jason on the streets of Dubai or a nearby location; 2) lunch or dinner with the photographer in Dubai or nearby to discuss Dubai, photography, travel, globalism, consumerism, or whatever you'd like; 3) a 2-hour walkabout with Jason while he's working on the project. Other ideas welcome - we'll come up with something cool!

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- (30 days)