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Emy Kat, Photographer of the Immaterial

Emy Kat dans son atelier parisien.

Emy Kat dans son atelier parisien.

Born and raised in Jeddah, Emy Kat did his later studies in Lebanon before the beginning of the civil war. He later moved to Paris to continue his photography career. As a rocker, ever curious, and a natural traveller, Emy Kat didn’t hesitate to camp for three months in the old abandoned palaces of Jeddah, to discover the secrets and immortalize their secular splendor in the series “The Everlasting Now”.

“Jeddah, the entry of all muslims from all around the globe, was built because they didn’t have stone. So they used coral. They didn’t actually go to the sea and [dig] the coral from the sea, no, they dug the actual shoreline and they found that type of stone, which was actually coral, and they’ve made, they constructed their houses from it. Don’t forget that Jeddah was abandoned by its own people, at one point, for forty years.”

But since the 2000s, the Kingdom has changed. There was an awareness and a political will capable of changing the direction, a new vision for the Kingdom. “In the past, heritage was not looked at in a very important way. It was looked at as an old thing, and it’s destroyed, we want to build new, in the past. But things are changing now in Saudi Arabia with a lot of the art movement, a lot of the institutions and initiatives in Saudi Arabia today, heritage is looked upon as a jewel”.

Photographer of the Immaterial

The relation between time and space has always been central to the work of Emy Kat. For 30 years, he has placed himself in the streets of Marrakech. He watches the passersby, which he calls “Souls of the street”.

The Old City of Jeddah was constructed by the Turks 420 years ago, from coral. On the coast, Jeddah is considered as the port of entry of the Arab world, and has been built from coral, as they did not have stone.

“When I was seven, I would take the bicycle from our home and drive through the actual town. It was full of life it was, full of energy, full of love. I did go back, I always visit the old town, I always make a point of visiting the old town and spending time with it, and going through the streets…”.

Searching for Jeddah

Emy Kat has transformed this search of Old Jeddah into a work of art. “ I lived three months in the old structures, camping, to feel the energy, to let the city tell you its secrets.” It was in this way that he created “The Everlasting Now”.

The last time that Emy Kat was in Jeddah, it was in February, in order to expose his works at “Jeddah 21,39”, the annual exposition which shows the biggest Saudi artists. Speaking of his most recent trip, Kat said “When I arrived, I was surprised to find again all the love and all the energy that I felt as a child”.