Rawiya: In Her Absence I Created Her Image

In Her Absence I Created Her Image | Press Release | In the New York Times | On WideWalls | On Broadly. | In Globalist | In Internazionale | In de Volkskrant | Artist Website | Panel Discussion | On Livestream

May 7-28, 2016
Opening Reception: May 7, 7-9pm
Panel Discussion: May 12, 7-9pm

Laura Boushnak, from the series I Read I Write

Laura Boushnak, from the series I Read I Write

Rawiya presents In Her Absence I Created Her Image, an exhibit of documentary photography at Open Source Gallery.

In Her Absence I Created Her Image will explore the lives of communities and individuals in the Middle East through documentary photography, focusing on social, political, and human rights issues across Arab countries. At a time when Islamophobia in the U.S. runs rampant and many view the Middle East with suspicion, efforts to create understanding are of the utmost importance. This exhibit, the title of which is inspired by a poem by Mahmoud Darwish, includes work by photographers Laura Boushnak, Tanya Habjouqa, Myriam Abdelaziz, and Tamara Abdul Hadi, members of the Rawiya photography collective. Rawiya aims to dispel stereotypes about this often misunderstood and underrepresented region by shining a light on the everyday hardships and shared experiences of its inhabitants, thereby encouraging a more compassionate and empathetic worldview. Within In Her Absence I Created Her Image, individual projects and varied themes contribute to an overarching theme of humanity, dignity, and empowerment.

In I Read I Write, Boushnak delves into issues surrounding access to education, exploring the role of literacy in improving the lives of Arab women. Her photographs span across Tunisia, Yemen, Jordan, Egypt, and Kuwait, capturing arresting portraits young women for whom education is the first step in improving their lives. In Occupied Pleasures, Habjouqa explores the everyday existence of Palestinians who, with the threat of violence often overhead, seek out simple joys. Pain and pleasure are often opposite signs of the same coin and Habjouqa explores the paradoxes and humor resulting from everyday existence within a 47-year occupation. Abdelaziz strives to expose harsh child labor conditions as a result of the Egyptian economic crisis in Menya’s Kids. Her young subjects emerge in a white haze of dust from the limestone quarries that they must cut with dangerous machinery, often prone to premature death from electrocution or injury. Finally, Abdul Hadi’s Picture an Arab Man seeks to fight hypermasculine stereotypes surrounding the Arab male. Abdul Hadi provides the viewer with a portrayal of sensual beauty and vulnerability, defying the violent narrative that afflicts these men. The artists of Rawiya come together to show the world what it cannot always see: people not as caricatured victims, but intensely human, with an entire spectrum of vulnerabilities and intricacies they hold wholly their own.

Rawiya, meaning “she who tells a story,” is the first all-female photography collective from the Middle East. Members of the group include New York- and Cairo-based photographer Myriam Abdelaziz, Beirut-based photographer Tamara Abdul Hadi, Sarajevo-based photographer Laura Boushnak, and East Jerusalem-based photographer Tanya Habjouqa. As a group, Rawiya has exhibited at places such as the Empty Quarter Gallery (Lebanon), Contemporary Art Platform (Kuwait), Ernest G. Welch Gallery (USA), Bildmuseet Museum (Sweden), Modem Museum (Hungary), New Art Exchange (UK) and the Louisiana Museum (Denmark).

This exhibit is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Puffin Foundation.

Rawiya: Panel Discussion

In Her Absence I Created Her Image | Press Release | On WideWalls | On Broadly. | Artist Website | Panel Discussion | On Livestream

May 12, 2016

Tamara Abdul Hadi, from the series "Picture an Arab Man"

Tamara Abdul Hadi, from the series “Picture an Arab Man”

Presented in conjunction with Rawiya’s exhibit In Her Absence I Created Her Image, this panel discussion will explore representations of individuals in the Middle East.

Photography has played a major role in building a global image of society. Often we focus on Western representations of various Middle Eastern people and in doing so we miss a vital perspective and are often given inaccurate representations. Moderator James Wellford and panelists Myriam Abdelaziz, Tamara Abdul Hadi, Laura Boushnak, Tanya Habjouqa and Alia Malek will examine the stereotypes that unfairly place a diverse group of people who practice religion differently, who dress differently, who speak different forms of Arabic, and who have different cultural traditions, into overgeneralized categories.

James Wellford is a photography editor, producer, curator, and educator based in Brooklyn, New York. He is currently the Editorial Director of Visura. His collaborative work with photographers has received top honors at the Overseas Press Club, World Press Photo, POYi, American Photo, Visa Pour L’image, PX 3, and NPPA. He curates photography and multimedia shows that address topical issues in the world including most recently: American Photography (Photographic Museum of Humanity), Remembering Liberia (Photoville 2013) and Iraq 10 Years (VII Gallery). James is on the advisory board of the Photobook Museum and the organization Social Documentary Network and is the co-founder of two groups: ScreenProjects and SeenUnseen that are working on ways to create, support, and deliver powerful visual and narrative stories around the world. For 12 years he was the International Photo Editor at Newsweek Magazine. James is a Knight Wallace Fellow from the University of Michigan and a contributing photo editor to Smithsonian Journeys, Foreign Policy and CNN.

Alia Malek is a journalist and civil rights lawyer. She is the author of A Country Called Amreeka: US History Re-Told Through Arab American Lives. Her reportage has appeared in several places including the New York Times, The Nation, the Christian Science Monitor, Jadaliyya, McSweeneys, and Guernica.In April 2011, she moved to Damascus, Syria and wrote anonymously for several outlets from inside the country as it began to disintegrate. She returned to the US in May 2013 for the launch of Al Jazeera America, where she was Senior Writer until October 2015. She is currently the Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow at The Nation Institute and at work on a narrative non-fiction book about Syria, a memoir of family, house, and country.

Rawiya, meaning she who tells a story, is the first all-female photography collective from the Middle East, and it focuses on raising visibility of female Arab photographers as well as presents an insider view of the region. The photographers, including Myriam Abdelaziz, Tamara Abdul Hadi, Laura Boushnak, and Tanya Habjouqa, combat Western stereotypes of the Middle East. The collective’s photography counters these stereotypes through depictions of an all female auto-racing team, the pleasures of daily life even in the face of political turmoil and occupation, the vibrant gay community of Beirut, portraits breaking down the hyper masculine image of the Arab man as well as portraits of empowered Middle Eastern Muslim women.

on view now

Rawiya: In Her Absence I Created Her Image

In Her Absence I Created Her Image |


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