Light from the Middle East
In quite a contrast to the frivolities of the V&A’s current Ballgowns exhibition or the forthcoming Hollywood costume show, November sees the opening of the first major museum exhibition of contemporary photography from and about the Middle East.
The show will feature major works of contemporary photography focusing on the Middle East, covering works documenting events in the region form the last 20 years, right up to work made in response to the Arab Spring.
Photographers from 13 different countries will be featured in the show, including Abbas (Iran), Youssef Nabil (Egypt) and Walid Raad (Lebanon) and emerging talents including Taysir Batniji (Palestine), Shadi Ghadirian (Iran) and Abdulnasser Gharem (Saudi Arabia).
Marta Weiss, curator of the exhibition, says, ‘In the past few years contemporary photographic practice from and about the Middle East has been some of the most exciting, innovative and varied art anywhere in the world.
‘The exhibition will celebrate the creative and sophisticated ways that contemporary artists use photography to respond to the complexities of the Middle East.’
Subject matter includes photojournalism, digitally manipulated imagery and staged portraiture, with all works organised under three themes - Recording, Reframing and Resisting.
London and Marrakech-based designer and artist Hassan Hajjaj frequently re-appropriates European stereotype to fit them into the North African world, merging Middle Eastern fashion and designer brands:
We love this image (below) by Saudi Arabian based photographer Jowhara AlSaud, who explores ‘the language of censorship and the malleability of photography’ in her work, according to he V&A:
This photograph by Shadi Ghadirian is also particularly arresting. From her 1998 Qajar series, in this image Ghadirian is recreating a 19th century Iranian studio portrait using 20th Century props:
Light from the Middle East: New Photography runs from 13 November – 7 April 2013 at theVictoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7