MONØkult Feature: Mustafa Bastaki

The Solitary Unfolding between Human and Nature

Ria Kristina Torrente
Apr 19 · 4 min read

Dedicated street photographers have mastered a certain aesthetic — the composition, color, and subject — that shaped the saturated and similar semblances of street photography.

The difference lies in such photographers’ context. Does the photographer come from the same culture or an outsider? Is he or she a mere observer or a disruptor of the subject’s personal space? How extensive is the photographer of his or her worldviews? Or is there not an awareness after all?

Street photography in Bahrain is not exempted from the “aesthetic” that has become a universal template. On the other hand, we as viewers have unconsciously programmed our way of looking at street photographs only on the surface.

Mustafa Bastaki is a Bahraini street photographer and official Fujifilm Brand Ambassador since 2017. A colleague suggested about him and I scoured through his Instagram account. Sifting through his body of work consisting of street, architecture, cityscapes, and landscapes, I noticed uncommon aspects in his photographs that distinctly reveal his practice and thought process..

Moreover, these gentle revelations resonated with the visual language and form that I practice especially in the project he chose to share with MONØMANIA.

What sets Mustafa apart from his contemporaries is his transpiring visual language, which is clearly evident in the recurring, solitary appearances of his subjects, individual passersby or groups of people alike, that exude mirth and quietude at the same time.

Through this kind of visual intimacy, Mustafa painstakingly merges light and shadows in monochrome to visualize certain moods that resonate with him. Mustafa bears complete awareness and control of how his images would turn out: conjuring distinctive and beautiful fleeting moments captured on camera.

“In street photography, what really attracts me the most are shadows and light. I can stay focused on a single alley for hours just to find that perfect subject to pass by.”

Mustafa’s color photographs, on the other hand, have clearly distinguished composition as he frames his subjects in various situations whether it’s in between people, within the alleys or anything that’s conveniently available in his surroundings.

For this feature on MONØMANIA, however, Mustafa chose to share Solitary Trees, which he started in mid-2019. It’s a personal project where he captures human presence with isolated trees as frames. The former sometimes act as a scale to the latter. Together, he unfolds a visual story that sets apart from his usual take on street photography.

Mustafa Bastaki’s visual fluency is strongly evident even in conceptual landscapes. Only this time, there are no busy backdrops. It’s just the negative space of a quiet shore and the trees framing people from afar.

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from “Solitary Trees” by Mustafa Bastaki. Bahrain. 2019 to present.

More info on Mustafa Bastaki
Instagram: @ myahya09
Fujifilm: fujifilm-x.com/global/photographers/mustafa-bastaki/


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