Having worked for over 20 years for such publications as Vogue ITALIA, Vogue PARIS, Vanity Fair, GQ and Allure, Michel Haddi is regarded AS one of the world’s leading fashion photographers. He is also known as the “King of Celebrity Snappers.” Haddi photographed, among many, many others stars, Clint Eastwood, Martin Scorsese, David Bowie, Johnny Depp, Kate Moss and Angelina Jolie.
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What does art mean to you?
Art explains the world we live in today. It helps us understand the beauty and complexities of life.
When did you first realize your passion for art?
As a child and an adolescent, I was drawn to dance and the performing arts. I dreamed of becoming a choreographer or a set designer so that I could live my life around a stage, and be surrounded by creative people. In my mid-20s, my interest turned towards the visual arts, mainly due to my mother who is an art collector. Contemporary art is now my passion and profession.
Could you tell us a bit more about art and cultural production in the Middle East? What is the scene like today?
The art scene in the Gulf region is blossoming. Qatar hosts museum-quality art exhibitions. In Kuwait, there is an increase in the number of galleries and gallery-goers. Dubai, the hub of the Middle East art scene, is thriving. Even Saudi Arabia, with the establishment of Athr gallery and the recent success of the Edge of Arabia show in Jeddah, shows some promise. I feel that art appreciation is on the rise and the Middle East will eventually have the infrastructure to support its artists. On the other hand, there is a war in Syria and political instability across the Middle East, which can greatly affect cultural production. Art can only be created once a human’s basic needs are met.
How do you go about arranging artist talent functions?
While I am involved in every facet of the business, my main responsibility is to consign artworks for our exhibitions and auctions and be the main contact for the artists and art galleries. In 2010 we held the first contemporary art auction in Kuwait, which is now an annual event. We have hosted exhibitions in Kuwait and in London and will soon be launching our inaugural exhibition in Dubai, which we hope to follow with many more.
What is your latest exhibition, JAMM all about? What does the exhibition stress on?
JAMM’s inaugural exhibition in Dubai will also mark the launch of Toby Arts, a collaborative project between Toby, the brand by Saudi fashion designer Hatem Alakeel, and JAMM. It will be a platform for contemporary art, fashion and design. We chose to exhibit the work of Michel Haddi because he is an exceptional photographer and also embodies the mix between East and West, which is an integral characteristic of our own brands. He has worked as one of the leading photographers in fashion for over 20 years. He has also photographed countless celebrities as well. JAMM will be exhibiting limited-edition prints from his Celebrity series and limited-edition prints from his series on the Youth of Morocco.
What do you aim to achieve with JAMM?
Our main objective is to contribute to the development of the contemporary art market in the Middle East. We do this via large-scale projects such as exhibitions and auctions and smaller-scale projects such as lectures, artist book launches and panel discussions. Our focus is to advance Arab and Iranian artists in the West and Western artists in the East and thus encourage further collaboration between the two.
What is THE MEANING BEHIND the title of the exhibition?
The title of the exhibition is Iconic Bionic. It is a nod to the fact that celebrities have become the icons of our era. We live in a celebrity culture, which is fueled by television, the internet, and print media. This may be a moment in history and not the case in future.
What do you hope to achieve when it comes to art in the region?
Our role is to enhance the art scene in the region and to promote artists from this region in the best way that we can.