Panel Discussion: In Her Absence I Created Her Image
Presented in conjunction with Rawiya’s exhibit “In Her Absence I Created Her Image” at Open Source Gallery, this panel discussion will explore representations of individuals in the Middle East. This event will take place on May 12 from 7-9pm.
Photography has played a major role in building a global image of society. Often we focus on Western representations of various Middle Eastern people and in doing so we miss a vital perspective and are often given inaccurate representations. Moderator James Wellford and panelists Myriam Abdelaziz, Tamara Abdul Hadi, Laura Boushnak, Tanya Habjouqa and Alia Malek will examine the stereotypes that unfairly place a diverse group of people who practice religion differently, who dress differently, who speak different forms of Arabic, and who have different cultural traditions, into overgeneralized categories.
James Wellford is a photography editor, producer, curator, and educator based in Brooklyn, New York. He is currently the Editorial Director of Visura. His collaborative work with photographers has received top honors at the Overseas Press Club, World Press Photo, POYi, American Photo, Visa Pour L’image, PX 3, and NPPA. He curates photography and multimedia shows that address topical issues in the world including most recently: American Photography (Photographic Museum of Humanity), Remembering Liberia (Photoville 2013) and Iraq 10 Years (VII Gallery). James is on the advisory board of the Photobook Museum and the organization Social Documentary Network and is the co-founder of two groups: ScreenProjects and SeenUnseen that are working on ways to create, support, and deliver powerful visual and narrative stories around the world. For 12 years he was the International Photo Editor at Newsweek Magazine. James is a Knight Wallace Fellow from the University of Michigan and a contributing photo editor to Smithsonian Journeys, Foreign Policy and CNN.
Alia Malek is a journalist and civil rights lawyer. She is the author of A Country Called Amreeka: US History Re-Told Through Arab American Lives. Her reportage has appeared in several places including the New York Times, The Nation, the Christian Science Monitor, Jadaliyya, McSweeneys, and Guernica.In April 2011, she moved to Damascus, Syria and wrote anonymously for several outlets from inside the country as it began to disintegrate. She returned to the US in May 2013 for the launch of Al Jazeera America, where she was Senior Writer until October 2015. She is currently the Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow at The Nation Institute and at work on a narrative non-fiction book about Syria, a memoir of family, house, and country.
Rawiya, meaning she who tells a story, is the first all-female photography collective from the Middle East, and it focuses on raising visibility of female Arab photographers as well as presents an insider view of the region. The photographers, including Myriam Abdelaziz, Tamara Abdul Hadi, Laura Boushnak, and Tanya Habjouqa, combat Western stereotypes of the Middle East. The collective’s photography counters these stereotypes through depictions of an all female auto-racing team, the pleasures of daily life even in the face of political turmoil and occupation, the vibrant gay community of Beirut, portraits breaking down the hyper masculine image of the Arab man as well as portraits of empowered Middle Eastern Muslim women.