The Wall between Us
The Wall Between Us
Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 2020
This is the chronological story of the wall that divides our house from our neighbor’s. Walls are built to separate. They keep us safe from intrusion, protect our privacy from peering eyes, mark a clear line between what belongs and what does not. As the pandemic rapidly changed the world outside our wall, we could feel the aftershocks within. In February, schools shut their doors for an early spring break, not to open again for the rest of the academic year. New words were added to our vocabularies almost daily: “Non-Essential Worker,” "Social Distancing,” and finally, “Lockdown.” Unable to step outside our walls for anything other than essential, permitted purposes, I turned my eye to what was around us. Walls are straight lines. They define things. But we have a special wall. Our wall was built to keep us apart, but built new friendships. Our wall brought us freedom. Zayed, our neighbors son, would perch precariously on top, calling for my children to come out to play. Two meters apart and two meters high, our wall became the only playground our children would know for weeks. Our wall was a basketball court. Something to climb. A place where they traded toys and Eid holiday treats. And quickly a place where all of their time was spent while I would watch with wonder over their fascination. At the same time, we realized our walls didn’t divide a shared rooftop with our neighbors on the opposite side. Every week, like our children, we would climb a ladder to the top for sundowners and a laugh. Two meters apart and ten meters high, our neighbors were the only people we’d see socially for weeks. As Dubai re-opens and we settle into the “new normal,” the wall is still a central part of our lives. When the world feels like too much, I feel safe retreating behind its gates. We still don’t venture out much, we are cautious but I find comfort in knowing that our wall echo the sounds of laughter and joy throughout my garden. Katarina Premfors (@katarinapremfors) is a photographer based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Small note on use of color and black and white. I usually would not mix the two but each day has been such a mission and mix of emotions and some days have just been color days but mostly they were black and white.