Women Photographer’s Provocative Work Challenges Perceptions Of Middle Eastern Identity




A dozen Women photographers are featured in “She Who Tells a Story” which introduces the pioneering work of twelve leading women photographers from Iran and the Arab world: Jananne Al-Ani, Boushra Almutawakel, Gohar Dashti, Rana El Nemr, Lalla Essaydi, Shadi Ghadirian, Tanya Habjouqa, Rula Halawani, Nermine Hammam, Rania Matar, Shirin Neshat, and Newsha Tavakolian are all between the ages of 32 and 57.

They are children of a post-colonial but pre-Internet world. Although they often use narrative as a vehicle, storytelling interests them less, perhaps, than making statements does. Which makes perfect sense, the power of images to provoke being what it is — and the necessity for statements in such a turbulent region being what it is.

As the Middle East has undergone unparalleled change over the past twenty years, and national and personal identities have been dismantled and rebuilt, these artists have tackled the very notion of representation with passion and power. Their provocative images, which range in style from photojournalism to staged and manipulated visions, explore themes of gender stereotypes, war and peace, and personal life, all the while confronting nostalgic Western notions about women of the Orient and exploring the complex political and social landscapes of their home regions.

Enhanced with biographical and interpretive essays, and including more than 100 reproductions, this book challenges us to set aside preconceptions about this part of the world and share in the vision of a group of vibrant artists as they claim the right to tell their own stories in images of great sophistication, expressiveness, and beauty.

These prominent photographers have tackled the very notion of representation with passion and power, questioning tradition and challenging perceptions of Middle Eastern identity. Their provocative work ranges from fine art to photojournalism and provides insights into political and social issues, including questions of personal identity and exploring the complex political and social landscapes of their home regions in images of great sophistication, expressiveness, and beauty.

A beautiful book has been produced to accompany the exhibition at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. August 27, 2013 – January 12, 2014
Henry and Lois Foster Gallery (Gallery 158) BMFA


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