Nominated by Emma Bowkett (Director of photography, FT Weekend; Curator; Educator)
Born in 1993 in Sennar, Sudan, Muhammad Salah lives between Berlin and Khartoum. His work explores identity, masculinity, memory, time and space, distance, healing, and the expanse between birth and death. Salah uses a variety of media to express himself, including sound, text and archival material, as well as his own carefully considered take on photography. “I work a lot with configurations and metaphor,” he says. “I explore the medium of photography as a form of visual poetry.”
A strong yellow-ray of light overexposes the side of the frame she’s sitting on the frame. On the opposite side, my mom’s presence is marked by her blue hair rollers, looking off the camera. It’s been only three years since I was born. In the middle, Suhair sits with a white piece of cloth on her lap, her hands are gently complemented by the touch of her friend Amira. While Khadija sits silently on the ground in her short-sleeve white dress. It is the only photograph I have of my grandmother and her two daughters, my mother and auntie Suhir together.
“Perhaps I was looking for something that refuses to be photographed. I was only chasing shadows, perhaps.” – Santu Mofokeng, 1956-2020.
I was sleeping one morning in 2013. It was the second day of Eid, my mother knocked loudly on my door screaming that our house is on the brink of collapse. I woke up in shock and ran outside to saw neighbors whose homes had already been destroyed. They stood on the fence of our plot which was on higher ground, but the water was relentless and eventually reached the borders of our home. We left at the very last minute, my mother, sister, auntie, and I. Our house was destroyed and ever since I have felt the void. Home – once a fixed space in time – has now become a deep sense of longing and search for fulfillment.
That cataclysmic event propelled my search for safety and belonging, but with time the question became: when was I ever really home? All of us coming and going, with no destination but a dream of an entrenched sense of self. The hunt for an anchored identity in a world that remains in a constant state of flux.
Homecoming is my therapy, my refuge. A safe space for me to explore ‘home’ as a philosophical, spiritual, emotional, and physical construct. To find meaning beyond the linear and the formulaic, and delve into the beyond.