In ART

Curated by Janet Bellotto and Dr. Woodman Taylor with the assistance of Sueraya Shaheen, Contemporary Photography from the Arab World brought together a varied selection of artists published in past editions of Tribe Magazine founded in Dubai by Mubarik Jafery and Sueraya Shaheen. Specialising solely in photography and new media from the Arab world, the magazine’s ethos is to present new perspectives on the region as well as drawing on the long and rich history of studio photography.

Alia-Ali's 'Pongo (Borderland-Series)' Pigment print on cotton rag 134.62 x 177.8 cm Courtesy of the artist
Alia-Ali's 'Pongo (Borderland-Series)' Pigment print on cotton rag 134.62 x 177.8 cm Courtesy of the artist

Spanning artists from the 22 countries which constitute the Arab League who live in the MENA region and internationally.

The exhibition further contextualises the field of Arab photography through six themes: Longing / Belonging, Public Cultures, Ritual and Emotion, Space and Place, Psychological Projections and Imagined Futures.

Alia Ali’s ‘Borderland’ is inspired by identity and warfare. Courtesy of the Artist
Alia Ali’s ‘Borderland’ is inspired by identity and warfare. Courtesy of the Artist

Highlights include Hassan Hajjaj’s My Rock Stars series is key work demonstrating ‘Public Cultures’ as this body of work redefines the idea of ‘stardom’ with diverse individuals including male belly dancers, boxers, DJs, fashion designers, and traditional gnawa musicians, all as colourful and iconic as the backdrops they are photographed in front of. Hajjaj’s work merges individual style with popular Arabic culture.

Khaled Akil’s ‘Pokemon Go in Syria’ poses questions about popular culture and conflict. Courtesy of the Artist
Khaled Akil’s ‘Pokemon Go in Syria’ poses questions about popular culture and conflict. Courtesy of the Artist

Seminal performance artist Ebtisam Abdulaziz Women’s Circles consists of consists of 20 pictures of a woman (a ballerina hired by the artist) in black posing in various positions with a white circle around her waist. The circle “serves as both a prop for the artist and a metaphor for the condition of women within a set of activities and values that are clearly circumscribed”. The work speaks of individual psychological concerns about the governing of freedom of women not just in the Middle East but globally.

Amina Benbouchta, Chrysalis VI, 2015. Courtesy of Sabrina Amrani Gallery.
Amina Benbouchta, Chrysalis VI, 2015. Courtesy of Sabrina Amrani Gallery.

For Imagined Futures, artists including Afra Bin Dhaher; Alaa Edris; Arwa Alneami; Camille Zakharia; Farah Salem; Filwa Nazer; Heba Y. Amin, Jamelie Hassan; Khaled Hafez; Mustapha Azeroual and Shaikha Al Ketbi, posit new futures with new identities whilst taking into account the rapid technological advances occurring at present. Khaled Hafez’s animated video Mirror Sonata in Six Kinetic Movements explores Egyptian cultural symbols and codes reflecting on ideas of cultural pride, the self as maker of past, present and future.

Camille Zakharia, Spring 3, from the series Spring (detail), 2014. Courtesy of the Artist.
Camille Zakharia, Spring 3, from the series Spring (detail), 2014. Courtesy of the Artist.

The exhibition is a thoughtful showcase of photography from the Arab world, which continues to evolve in both exciting and engaging ways.

Artists: Adel Al-Quraishi; Afra Bin Dhaher; Ajlan Gharem; Alaa Edris; Alia Ali; Al Fadhil; Al-Moutasim Al-Maskery; Amani Al Shaali; Amina Benbouchta; Ammar Al Attar; Arwa Abouon; Arwa Alneami; Bashar Alhroub; Camille Zakharia; Ebtisam Abdulaziz; Farah Salem; Filwa Nazer; Ghada Khunji; Hassan Hajjaj; Hassan Meer; Hazem Mahdy; Heba Y. Amin; Ibi Ibrahim; Jalal Bin Thaneya; Jamelie Hassan; Jassim Al Awadhi; Joanna Barakat; Khaled Akil; Khaled Hafez; Lamya Gargash; Lara Atallah; Leila Alaoui; Maha Al Asaker; Mai Almoataz; Maitha Demithan; Manal AlDowayan; Mohammed Al Kouh; Mohammed Al Shammarey; Mustapha Azeroual; Nermine Hammam; Nora Alissa; Osama Esid; Rula Halawani; Sadik Kwaish Alfraji; Sama Alshaibi; Sara Naim; Shaikha Al Ketbi; Steve Sabella; Sultan Bin Fahad; Tammam Azzam; Tarek Al-Ghoussein; Toufic Beyhum; Wafaa Bilal; Yazan Khalili and Ziad Antar.

Yazan Khalili’s ‘Colour Correction’ resembles favelas in Rio. Courtesy of the Artist
Yazan Khalili’s ‘Colour Correction’ resembles favelas in Rio. Courtesy of the Artist

Contemporary Photography from the Arab World was on view between November 10 and December 16, 2018 at the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center Washington.

Wafaa Bilal, Chair from the Ashes series, 2003-2013. Courtesy of the Artist.
Wafaa Bilal, Chair from the Ashes series, 2003-2013. Courtesy of the Artist.
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