In this issue, we go back to basics and review definitions of frequently (or infrequently) words in the art world while referencing art from the MENASA region. IN THE FOLLOWING ARTICLES, YOU’LL DISCOVER AN ALPHABETICAL LIST OF ART-RELATED WORDS PAIRED WITH ARTWORKS THAT BEST ILLUSTRATE EACH WORD’S MEANING. ALL WORKS ARE BY MIDDLE EASTERN ARTISTS WHO HAVE LEFT AN INDELIBLE IMPRINT UPON THE INTERNATIONAL ART SCENE.
Narrative art refers to works made that attempt to tell a story, either real or imagined, which unfolds in a way that can be defined as literary. Narration can occur in painting and/or in video art, in sculpture, photography and installation, or a combination of these media.
In the work of Lebanese photographer Ziad Antar, for example, we see how photography can be used to foreground narrative elements. In Portrait of a Territory, Foujaira (2010), the artist reveals undertones of the social and political structures that define daily life. Some of his works reference life in the UAE between 2004 and 2011, resulting in timely documentation of a country at the threshold of economic, social and environmental change. At an exhibition at the Sharjah Art Foundation in 2012, for example, the artist presented a series of 211 black and white and coloured photographs that wrapped the exhibition space, forming as it were an installation that reflected the changing physical and social geography of the UAE.
A negative in art is often the result of a reverse image or space around a central subject or motif. In photography, a negative is usually referred to as the sheet of transparent paper where the lightest areas of the photographed subject appear darkest and the darkest areas appear lightest, an inverse of the image that is transferred via light.
In the artistic research project The Life of an Itinerant Through a Pinhole, Sweden-based Iranian artist Behzad Khosravi Noori looks at images by Gholamreza Amirbeigi, a local itinerant photographer, to present the relationship between class identity and the means of production in Tehran between the years 1956 and 1968. Whilst undertaking a historical analysis of archival images produced by a working-class immigrant community, the artist presents images photographed by a locally made pinhole camera known as “roohkich” (soul catcher) in the Urdu language. The camera is an elaborate version of one of the earliest techniques of photography, once commonly used in such places as Iran, Pakistan, India, South Africa, Mexico and Brazil, mainly during the post-colonial period. It is direct exposure on black and white photography paper.
A VERSION OF THIS ARTICLE APPEARED IN PRINT IN SELECTIONS, ART GLOSSARY #52 PAGES 104-105.