Trespassing the boundaries of photography to craft staggering concepts, create their own garments, or push social constraints, these five Arab photographers are outlining new patterns in the Middle East’s artistic scene.
1. Lalla Essaydi (Morocco): Inspired by the portrayal of Moroccan odalisques in 19th century French paintings, Essaydi re-defines the Orientalism mythology and invites the viewer to witness a different version of the iconic harem and its women. Impregnated by calligraphy and donning bullet-made dresses, Essaydi’s women perfectly mix the puzzling and the beautiful.
2. Bashar Alaeddin (Jordan): In a most interesting depiction where language, calligraphy and taboos intersect, Alaeddin’s series of black and white photographs of Arabic tattoos blend modernity with an ancient revived tradition.
3. Tanya Habjouqa (Palestine): In besieged Palestine, pursuing pleasures is also a form of resistance, she says. This witty thesis, and her inspiring series ‘Occupied Pleasures’, earned Habjouqa a World Press Photo award in 2014.
4. Ibi Ibrahim (Yemen): Thought-provoking and insightful, Ibrahim’s photography offers an intricate look into Yemeni society. “I feel I have a duty to show who we really are. I live through the conflict between being an artist, and then being a Yemeni artist,” he said in an interview with BarakaBits.
5. Heba Khalifa (Egypt): A painter, photographer and photojournalist, Khalifa explores the intersection between motherhood and activism through her series “From the Inside”. “I question how to visualize abstractions and self. What happens inside homes mirrors to what happens in society, and what happens in society reproduces the relationships inside the homes,” she says.