dense but deep
Photographs from the Arab world
17 February – 7 May 2006
"Nazar" in Arabic invokes sight, contemplation and reflection; looking, delving more deeply, then understanding. And what better way could there be than photography for gaining an insight into the Arab world, which extends from Morocco to Palestine, from Syria to the Yemen? The diversity of cultures and milieus in the whole Arab world is reflected in the large number of different ways of looking. "Dense but deep" presents photographers from Lebanon, Egypt and Palestine, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, Algeria and Morocco. They give us insights into their world. Work by photographers from Iran, Europe and America places examples of a view "from the outside" alongside the "inside view".
This kaleidoscope questions our Western view of the Arab world, which is currently of value to the media above all because of killings, wars and unresolved conflicts. But unspectacular and continuing political involvement and social changes in various Arab countries do not make media headlines, and are neglected by popular journalism in just the same way as personal experiences and reports.
Whatever the genre: portraits, landscapes or views of towns and cities, reportages or stage photography, whatever the technique: hand prints, digitally manipulated photographs or videos, all the photographers and their work have an unprejudiced, critical view of reality and social commitment in common, even if at first glance they seem to be telling personal, almost private stories.
56 photographers were presented in the Dutch premiere of "Nazar" during the 11th Noorderlicht Photofestival. Wim Melis, curator of "Nazar", the Syrian photographer and curator Issa Touma and the ifa-Galleries have made a selection from this unusually wide range of 10 Arabic and 4 Western photographers. They do not just offer sights, which – "deep but dense" – mystify and at the same time give a close up view. Thus "deep but dense" also convey "insights" from and about a world that is in itself very varied and complex.
Maha Maamoun (Egypt), Tarek Al-Ghoussein (Palestine, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates), Rula Halawani (Palestine), Reem Al-Faisal (Saudi-Arabia), Farida Hamak (Algeria, France), Bruno Boudjelal (Algeria, France), Anas Al-Shaikh (Bahrain), Lalla Essaydi (Morocco, USA), Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige (Lebanon) and also Alison Bradley (USA), Wouter Deruytter (Belgium), Laura Junka (Finland), Zbigniew Kosc (Poland, Netherlands), Reza (Iran, France).
11. Noorderlicht Photofestival 2004
The Noorderlicht Photofestival regular focuses on photography outside Europe, "Africa Inside" in the year 2000, for example, or "Mundos Creados" in 2002, looking at the photographic scene in Latin America. In 2004, "Nazar" presented photography in and from the Arab world in Leeuwarden in Friesia. Various sights and insights were presented: a view from the outside, the Arab world captured by Western photographers, was juxtaposed with a view from the inside by photographers from the Arab world; contemporary photography was contrasted with example of historical shots from the first half of the 20th century. The curator of Noorderlicht, Wim Melis, was responsible for "Nazar".
The extensive English/Arabic catalogue, with 250 pages and numerous illustrations, was published by the Stichting Aurora Borealis in Groningen and is distributed by Idea Books in Amsterdam; it will be on sale at the exhibition at a price of 35 euros; it contains essays by Michket Krifa, Negar Azimi, Issam Nassar, Isolde Brielmaier, Issa Touma, Peter Lewis and Shefira Zuhur, and also brief notes on all the photographers involved.
Exhibition guide: 2, 50 Euro