Tag Archives: Diverse Group

Light from the Middle East

The Middle East, a sprawling and nuanced geographic mass that is home to many cultures and traditions, is often seen through the lens of politics. The Victoria & Albert Museums latest photography exhibition, however, manages to transcend this overarching narrative, producing a show that focuses on the subject of contemporary photographic practice.

As the exhibition’s curator Marta Weiss acknowledges, until now, the V & A Museums collection of photographs from the region reflected the Eurocentric term itself: Most of the photographs that we have that relate to the region were made by westerners, she says. This exhibition marks a departure from that, recognizing instead the wealth and variety of photo-making from this diverse region. This is very much an exhibition that is not about outsiders, but rather a view of the Middle East from the Middle East.”

Spanning over three decades and encompassing the work of some 30 artists and photographers, the show is divided into three parts: recording, re-framing and resisting. The categories, explains Weiss, show how photography is being employed by photographers.

The ambitiousness of the show lies not in its geographic scope, but rather in the drawing together of a diverse group of practitioners who have engaged with the medium in multiple ways.At one end of the spectrum, there is the iconic work of Magnum-photographer Abbas, documenting the unfolding revolution in Iran from 1978-1979 in his series Iran Diary, a precursor to the events attested to recently in the Arab spring. Nermine Hamman focuses on this very subject, photographing young Egyptian soldiers in Tahrir Square. Displayed in the “resistance” section of the exhibition, Hammans digitally altered images remove the soldiers from their immediate surroundings and place them instead among candy-colored mountain scapes and cherry blossoms. Entitled Upekkha (2011), the images have a postcard-like quality, drawing a parallel between the spectacle of Tahrir Square to that of a tourist attraction.

Despite the intention of the curators to shift the emphasis away from the political, Weiss acknowledges there is a lot of politics in the works. Though some of the photographers openly challenge this. Shadi Ghadirians re-staged portraits of Iranian women in the Qajar period (1786-1925) play on the tensions between tradition, modernity and gender. linkwheel . The warm grey theatrical studio photographs feature playful reminders of modernity, including an explorer bicycle and Pepsi can.

The artists on show do not limit themselves to just the Middle East however. Taysir Batnijis series documenting Israeli watchtowers in occupied Palestinian is a clear homage to German artists Bernd and Hillary Bechers iconic typologies of industrial structures in Europe. Yousef Nabil, who once worked with David LaChapelle, also looks to Europe for inspiration, photographing elderly Yemeni men in England. By hand-coloring the portraits in the style of old Egyptian film stills however, Nabil celebrates the rich tradition of Middle Eastern image-making, which, as the exhibition is testament to, is as strong and vibrant as ever.


Light from the Middle East: New Photography is on show at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London from Nov. 13 through April 7, 2013.

Kharunya Paramaguru is based in TIME’s London office.


The DNC in Pictures: The Delegates by Grant Cornett

Unlike the Republican delegates—who were chased and divided up during a harrowing primary—the delegates attending the Democratic National Convention were a foregone conclusion. They would arrive in Charlotte in solidarity, casting their votes for the sitting President who on Wednesday night became the Party’s official nominee.

But while they’re united behind Barack Obama and his quest to revive the economy, their pet causes range: from protecting the environment to improving education, from expanding gay rights to defending abortion rights. They are a diverse group, in age, race and creed.

Photographer Grant Cornett took to the streets of North Carolina, capturing members from each state’s delegation. His work puts a face on the Democratic Party of 2012.

To see the Republican delegates from last week click here. 

Katy Steinmetz is a reporter in TIME’s Washington bureau. In addition to working on features for TIME and TIME.com, she contributes to TIME’s Swampland, Healthland and NewsFeed blogs.

Low Tech/High Art

Opening on October 28th, Low Tech/High Art, an invitational exhibition of toy camera artists will open at the Business of Art Center in Manitou Springs, Colorado. The exhibition will run through December 31st, along with a display of toy cameras.

Curator Carol Dass writes:
In this digitally dominated age it’s refreshing to see images produced with film and actual analog cameras. With that said, I invite you to view Low Tech/High Art, work by artists who have chosen to use toy cameras to create their compelling images. The photographers are a diverse group from across the country united in their passion for producing images using cheaply made cameras with substandard lenses for everything from commercial work to fine art.

A sampling of some of the images and image makers follow:

C. Gary Moyer

Michelle Bates

Jennifer Shaw

Anne Arden McDonald

Carol Dass

Gordon Stettinius

Heather Oelkaus

John Bridges

Mark Sink

Mary Ann Lynch

Matt Chmielarczyk

Group Show at the Bonni Benrubi Gallery

Busch Memorial Stadium, 1978. © Joel Meyerowitz

Exhibition on view:
August 4–September 10, 2011

Bonni Benrubi Gallery:
41 East 57th Street, 13th Floor
New York, NY
(212) 888-6007

The Bonni Benrubi Gallery is currently exhibiting a diverse group show of 20th Century and contemporary photography that includes the work of Joel Meyerowitz. Aperture published Meyerowitz’s book Legacy: The Preservation of Wilderness in New York City Parks and the related limited-edition box set and portfolio.