Strategy class trip to Emirati family photograph art exhibit

Yesterday I took both my men's Strategy classes to an photography exhibit developed and organised by the College of Art and Creative Enterprises at Zayed University in Abu Dhabi. You can read The National's story on it here.

The exhibit displayed what was first a very creative assignment given by Dr.Michele Bambling who invited students to bring in family photographs and over the past three years it grew until there was almost no choice but to do an exhibit. The book (which is truly stunning) was designed by David Howarth, an Assistant Professor of Graphic Design. In the words of Marco Sosa, who designed the show:

"This is the first exhibition and accompanying book that examines family photographs produced by Emiratis during the second half of the 20th century.

The photographs and video footage in this exhibition differ dramatically from better known and widely distributed professional photos taken by early explorers, missionaries, oil companies, government agencies, the media, and royal family photographers. These are snapshots focused not on official events or protocol, by virtue of being taken by amateurs; they are candid, clicked for private viewing and lasting memories.

The exhibition begins by showing the process through which students collected, researched, curated and authored a book of photographs. The oldest photograph found in a home was dated 1958; the most recent one was made in 1999, after which the students could ‘see’ the world into which world they were born.

The second part of the exhibition explores student responses to these photographs through a series of experimental installations that draw on them with an aesthetic sensibility of their own generation.

These inter-generational works consider a critical issue: the capacity of photography to evoke memories and stir the imagination."

But why take my "strategy boys" there? What interest do they have in art? Or taking the long outside trek to the exhibit space on the exact other side of the campus from our class? Because, as I have written about before, their first assignment is an essay on the subject "Strategy is..." based on an interview with an Emirati older than 60 years young. You can read a post about the assignment here and some results here.

I wanted them to be inspired by the photographs themselves to remember family stories, legends and other oral history that teaches about how people reached their personal and professional goals - about the strategies they used and the tactics they employed.

The students found it interesting, some were very keen to learn more about ways to celebrate and preserve heritage and culture and that was exciting to all the professors there (thank you Marco, David and Michele for volunteering your time for the tour!). We also used the Polaroid camera to fill the map of visitors to the exhibit... 

Teaching "business" subjects is not about just using techniques invented by old (white, sorry but true) men in the 50s and 60s. Teaching strategy, management and human resource management can be done in any number of ways - and to be relevant to today's generations, and especially to be relevant to Emirati students we need to find ways to teach that are relevant to them - not people who lived in another era and century! 

Mr. Marco explaining the exhibit and the heavily student involved process

Dr. Michelle, Mr. David and Mr. Marco

Trying out the old typewriters and looking at the book

A student from Ajman being photographed for the map

And I live about here! Using google maps to pinpoint exact location!

1 comment:

  1. What an exciting project. Looking forward to reading about the follow-up.