What Parisian shopping arcades were to the nineteenth century and capitalism, Dubai’s luxurious mega-malls are to the new millennium and late capitalism. The Baudelairean flaneur, who patrolled the avenues as a detached observer, today is replaced by the phoneur, a wired wanderer who uses a cell phone to text, call, Web-surf and snap digital images on the fly. The ubiquitous cellphone camera has already become a valid tool of civilian journalism. Celebrated photographer Joel Sternfeld visited Dubai in 2008, documenting its new malls with the consumer fetish object du jour, the iPhone. In this volume, the photographer’s twelfth photobook, Sternfeld counters the popular myth that the United Arab Emirates is the Persian Gulf’s Disney World, locating subtler social strata and interactions. Included is an essay by Columbia University art historian, Jonathan Crary, who considers the implications of Sternfeld’s mobile gaze.
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