Photographer of the Week #171: Melina Papageorgiou

Melina Papageorgiou is a photographer based in Germany.

Over the past six years, Papageorgiou has spent time in the United Arab Emirates and Oman. Here she developed Burkini, a photo project that focuses on capturing the sense of these individual places through her personal experiences. These photographs are composed in a way that gives the viewer space to take in the details of each subject and object individually. The framing and water in these images often abstract the figure-ground relationship. Bright images are shown throughout Burkini creating a unifying aesthetic that is reflective of the intense sunlight that exists in these environments.

“To me it sometimes feels like another, an impressive world: a place made up by a certain artificiality, by an ever-constant soundscape of cars, construction sites, air-conditions, that would not even cease in intensity at night. In a way, it all seems to merge together – the way the relations between the sexes and classes present themselves, how wealth and poverty, nature and city surroundings exist side by side.”

Beyond the politics and opinions regarding burkinis that exist within western culture, in Papageogiou’s photographs, you are offered intimate and real perspectives of these distinct areas and the humans who inhabit them. The inanimate details reference technology, the natural world and human influence.

Though some of the images from Burkini depict anonymous subjects, they still have a strong human presence. We can’t always see a face, so we focus on what we can see, such as clothing and posture. Throughout the series, women are seen surrounded by water, an emblem of freedom and comfort. The photographs in Burkini present a humanizing perspective, providing the subjects with an autonomous voice, free from the sensationalism of western culture.

For more of Papageorgiou’s work, visit her website: