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Rawiya - The First All-Female Photography Collective from the Middle East at Open Source Gallery

  • Laura-Boushnak,-I-Read-I-Write-series.-Courtesy-of-artist-and-Open-Space-Gallery
May 6, 2016
Alias of Ksenija Pantelić

The first all-female photography collective Rawiya, emerging from the Middle East, translates to ‘ she who tells a story’. This revolutionary group features works of the following photographers: Myriam Abdelaziz, Tamara Abdul Hadi, Tanya Habjouqa, and Laura Boushnak. Exploring and pushing both East and West to reflect about their own stereotypes, Rawiya addresses the way in which the world looks at the Middle East. The documentary photography, focusing on presenting the vulnerable side of life, and everyday hardships, reflects on social, political, and human rights across the Arab countries. This time, the new exhibition In Her Absence I Created Her Image, whose title is inspired by a poem of the poet Mahmoud Darwish, is proudly presented by Open Source Gallery in Brooklyn, NY.

Tamara Abdul Hadi – Photograph from the Picture an Arab Man Series

Efforts to Create Understanding

The individual projects of the female photographers deal with numerous themes, but in the end, share the same goal. The contribution towards humanity, dignity, and empowerment, alongside the need to enforce and create a better understanding of the Middle East countries, that are more than ever before viewed with suspicion by the world, is what is at the core of the collective’s work. The photographers of the collective, incorporating documentary photography, portraiture photography of children and women, present to us the world that we know very little about, aiming to dispel the stereotypes that shine across this region, thereby encouraging a more compassionate and empathetic worldview.

Myriam Abdelaziz – Photograph from the Menya’s Kids Series

A Glimpse that Aims to Transform

Focusing on presenting the shared hardships and experiences through photography, each individual project of Rawiya members aims to present to the public a more gentle, fragile, brave and inspirational side of life. In I Read I Write, Laura Boushnak, captures fascinating portraits of young women who are fighting for their right to education, and who see knowledge as the first step towards the improvement of their lives. In Occupied Pleasures, Tanya Habjouqa explores the side of life that is filled with hope. Capturing the everyday existence of Palestinians who, surrounded by the threat of violence, often seek out simple joys. Humor, and the parallel existence of both pain and pleasure, makes up the everyday existence of the inhabitants living within a 47-year occupation. The danger of premature death of children, who are forced to cut limestone with dangerous machinery, Myriam Abdelaziz explores in her photography series Menya’s Kids. Emerging from the white haze of dust, the young children show us the world were childhood and play are privileges. Finally, Abdul Hadi’s images fight against the stereotypes surrounding the Arab men. Providing the viewer with the sensual, beautiful, and fragile portraits of different Arab men, the photographer seeks to rebel the violent narrative that affects these men.

Tanya Habjouqa – Photograph from the Occupied Pleasures Series

Rawiya Collective at the Open Source Gallery in Brooklyn, NY

The artists of the photography collective Rawiya, tell a story that is both intensely human and vulnerable, and also strong, aiming to fight stereotypical narratives surrounding the Middle East. The exhibition In Her Absence I Created Her Image, lasting from May 7th until May 28th, 2016, at the Open Source Gallery, present to the public beautiful images of the world we all know very little about. The strength of the collective’s work lies in the honesty and bravery to present to the world a new side of the life in the world often thought of as dangerous and elusive.

All images courtesy of the members of Rawiya Collective and the Open Source Gallery. Featured image in slider: Laura Boushnak, I Read I Write Series.