MOHAMED YAKUB: MAGNETIC FLUX

“A photograph is a picture, an image, an illusion complete within itself, depending neither on words, reproductive processes or anything else for its life, its reason for being.”

- Roy DeCarava

The Artist

Mohamed Yakub is a Kenyan born American who has been a practicing architect for thirty-six years. He has worked on high rise building projects internationally as well as in the United States. Currently, he is the Director of Design at Kitchen Habitat, a design firm that he owns in New York. Photography has always been one of his passions, and Santiago Calatrava is one of his favorite architects.

The Subject

Santiago Calatrava is a Spanish architect and sculptural engineer known for his sculptural bridges and buildings that often resemble living organisms or cosmic forms. The photographs in this show focus on Calatrava’s building of the Port Authority Transportation Hub at the World Trade Center commonly known as the PATH Station.

Mohamed Yakub was so fascinated by the PATH Station that he photographed it twice. The first series was shot in February 2018, and resulted in a piece of work actually named “Calatrava Built A Space Station.” The resulting images are reminiscent of Stanley Kubrick‘s 2001: Space Odyssey. Yakub thinks that Calatrava has taken that vision even further: “All I’ve done is simply amplify that vision.”

The second series was shot during the Covid-19 quarantine in New York. This produced a completely different set of images partly because of the lack of people. Surprisingly, it also produced on the whole more colorful images.

Mohamed Yakub shared,“I’ve always admired the audaciousness of Calatrava’s design, a building of such wild abandon; yet, still a holy site right in the middle of New York. I love the repetitiveness and pureness of the exposed struzture. It served well as a beautiful canvas for my own work. I can only thank, Calatrava.”

The Process

What Mohamed Yakub loves about the camera is its ability to stop as well as to stretch light, letting us experience images that our efficient eyes which move quickly from one moment in time to the next, will not let us see.

Yakub shoots long exposures which produce streaming colors that break apart all of the component parts of the actual object and served as a gateway to an alternate experience. Then, he mirrors those images. Each of the photographs in this show consists of only one image repeated once, twice or multiple times. There is no stretching or manipulation of the physical image. The various colors are achieved by variations in color temperature.

The results are startling. The camera has allowed Yakub to translate the ribs and orbs of Calatrava’s building into images that are mysterious, other worldly, galactic. Are we viewing the world from inner or outer space ? Are we witnessing space ships, slave ships, ancient kingdoms, or the future?

WHAT DO YOU SEE?

The Center of Knowhere is proud to present the inaugural show of Mohamed Yakub’s photographs. We appreciate the curatorial assistance of Sandra Grymes and Dr. Cheryl Finley with this project.