Realism in Rawiya: Photographic Stories from the Middle East

Myriam Abdelaziz, Tamara Abdul Hadi, Laura Boushnak, Tanya Habjouqa, Dalia Khamissy and Newsha Tavakolian

Realism in Rawiya presents the work of Rawiya, the first all female photographic collective to emerge from the Middle East. With a specific focus on gender and identity, the exhibition presents a thoughtful view of a region in flux, balancing its contradictions while reflecting on social and political issues and stereotypes.

Rawiya, which translates from Arabic to mean ‘she who tells a story’, is made up of artists who established their individual careers as photojournalists by working for news agencies and publications across the Arab world. By living and reporting in the region, they gained an insider’s view of the extremities of these settings, whilst also observing how their reportage could become reframed in the international media’s final edit of events.

Realism in Rawiya tells untold stories, from a Palestinian all-female auto racing team and transsexuals in Jerusalem, to cluster bomb survivors trying to rebuild their lives, Iranian mothers of martyrs who visit their son’s grave twice a week and parents in Lebanon who continue to wait for the 17,000 missing to come home.

The photographers see internationally newsworthy events through a local eye, resulting in a personal photographic insight into everyday life in the Middle East. Many artists in Rawiya have also lived the stories they tell, like Dalia Khamissy whose work The Missing: Lebanon (2010 – ongoing) echoes her own experience of her father’s kidnap when she was seven-years old. Artist Newsha Tavakolian states that the work of Rawiya offers ‘a way of breathing within the smothering world of censorship.’

Realism in Rawiya is a touring exhibition by New Art Exchange (NAE), Nottingham, curated by NAE and Saleem Arif Quadry.

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