I Am Not a Machine by | Yumna Al-Arashi

Photographer Yumna Al-Arashi joined the Vsco’s — Artist Initiative in early 2015 with a project she had began years prior but felt did not have the proper resolution it deserved

Spending much time in the United Arab Emirates, and greater Middle East, she took notice of the divide between the individuals that resided and enjoyed the region’s vast wealth and luxuries, from the migrant workers who physically constructed their cities. Al-Arashi saw the prejudices of this integral part of the population and wanted to create a conversation around this injustice. Her project speaks loudly about the challenges this community faces and how their experiences are readily ignored, and through her images she hopes to put a spotlight on a situation that is often overlooked.

Her portraits of workers are a devastating subversion of fashion photography. She doesn’t merely dress workers in rich people’s clothes, but gives them the gravitas and individuality that the rich take as their exclusive privilege. Each image is a tribute to a worker’s masculinity, beauty, struggle and strength. Al-Arashi’s photos are love letters to one section of the new global proletariat, the working class earning minimum wage salaries. They show the revolutionary power that beauty sometimes possesses – if one knows where to look.

My goal for for this is to create an awareness of a world that is largely unseen. Using photography, which is my tool, I can participate in that and whatever change, that can influence is fantastic for me.

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