Women artists from Iran and the Arab World have something to say.
The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston’s exhibition “She Who Tells a Story: Women Photographers from Iran and the Arab World” (27 August 2013 to 12 January 2014) shows works by twelve women photographers from Iran and the Arab World, challenging stereotypes of how women are perceived and represented across the region.
“She Who Tells a Story: Women Photographers from Iran and the Arab World”, the first exhibition of Arab women photographers in North America, takes place at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston from 27 August 2013 to 12 January 2014 and includes twelve women photographers from Iran and the Arab World. Approximately 100 photographs and two videos, all created within the last decade, challenge the viewers’ preconceptions of women in the Arab world.
According to the press release, the exhibition “refute(s) the conception that Arab and Iranian women are ‘oppressed and powerless,’ instead reinforcing that some of the most significant photographic work in the region today is being done by women.”
The works range from fine art to photojournalism and tackle personal identity, political and social issues while “exploring the complex political and social landscapes of their home regions in images of great sophistication, expressiveness, and beauty,” as stated in the press release.
Priscilla Frank in the Huffington Post states that these pioneering female artists tackle “Middle Eastern identity with passion, fearlessness and vulnerability“, claiming they “do not just present representations of women in the Arab world, but show how these representations and perceptions construct cultural identities both real and imagined.”
The Economist’s More Intelligent Life magazine calls the exhibition a “brave statement”, describing the images as “full of energy, life and lustre, others gritty and drenched in pain, all with a story to tell.”
Artists in the Exhibition
- Lalla Essaydi, (b. 1956 in Morocco, resides in Morocco and New York)
- Boushra Almutawakel (b. 1969 in Yemen, resides in Sana’a, Yemen and Paris, France)
- Rania Matar (b. 1964 in Lebanon, resides in Brookline, MA)
- Shirin Neshat (b. 1957 in Iran, resides in New York)
- Newsha Tavakolian (b. 1981 in Iran, where she still resides)
- Gohar Dashti (b. 1980 in Iran, where she still resides)
- Rana El Nemr (b. 1974 Egyptian, born in Germany, resides in Egypt)
- Tanya Habjouqa (b. 1975 in Jordan, resides in East Jerusalem)
- Shadi Ghadirian (b. 1974 in Iran, where she still resides)
- Rula Halawani (b. 1964 in East Jerusalem, where she still resides)
- Nermine Hammam (b. 1967 in Egypt, resides in Egypt and London)
- Jananne Al-Ani (b. 1966 in Iraq, resides in London)
Two photographers from the exhibition, Tanya Habjouqa and Newsha Tavakolian, are members of Rawiya, a collective of women photographers from the Middle East. In an interview with Ahram Online the two Rawiya group members describe the importance of banding together to focus on social documentary. Habjouqa said she “felt that [my] new role as a mother would create limitations (not being able to cover the initial days of the Egyptian revolution, for example) a sense of liberation ensued. To shoot slower, more thoughtfully…”
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