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She Who Tells a Story: Women Photographers from Iran and the Arab World

Source: The National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C.

On view April 08-July 31, 2016.
The National Museum of Women in the Arts
1250 New York Ave NW, Washington, D.C. 20005

Gohar Dashti, Untitled #5 (detail), from the series “Today’s Life and War,” 2008, Chromogenic print, 27 5/8 x 41 3/8 in.; Courtesy of the artist, Azita Bina, and Robert Klein Gallery, Boston; © Gohar Dashti

This landmark exhibition of more than 80 photographs and a video installation challenges stereotypes surrounding the people, landscapes, and cultures of Iran and the Arab world. She Who Tells a Story refutes the conventional idea that Arab and Iranian women are oppressed or powerless, illuminating the fact that women are creating some of the most significant photographic work in the region today.

The exhibition features artists Jananne Al-Ani, Boushra Almutawakel, Gohar Dashti, Rana El Nemr, Lalla Essaydi, Shadi Ghadirian, Tanya Habjouqa, Rula Halawani, Nermine Hammam, Rania Matar, Shirin Neshat, and Newsha Tavakolian. Their provocative works, most created within the last decade, range in genre from portraiture to documentary to staged narratives. Many of the artists develop expansive series of images that create compelling narratives about feminine identity, war, occupation, and protest.

Shirin Neshat, Sara Khaki (Patriots) (detail), from the series “The Book of Kings,” 2012; Ink on laser-exposed silver gelatin print, 60 x 45 in.; Courtesy of the artist and Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels; © Shirin Neshat

The title of the exhibition is inspired by the Arabic word rawiya, which means “she who tells a story.” It is also the name of a collective of women photographers based in the Middle East founded in 2009. Women worldwide have been pioneers in the mediums of photography and video since their inception. This exhibition demonstrates that the work of women photographers continues to resonate on a global scale.

Each artist in She Who Tells a Story offers a vision of the world she has witnessed. The photographers’ images invite viewers to reconsider their own preconceptions about the nature of politics, family, and personal identity in the Middle East.

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Presentation of the exhibition at NMWA is made possible through the generous support of an anonymous donor. Additional funding is provided by Marcia and Frank Carlucci, Cindy and Evan Jones, and the Georgia Committee of NMWA.


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