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Jaffrey

she who tells a story

JAFFREY: Kristen Gresh has given a voice to a slew of female photographers — and the otherwise voiceless subjects they’ve photographed in the Middle East Story, page 18

  • Roja<br/>	Shirin Neshat (Iranian born, born in 1957)<br/>	2012<br/>	Photograph, gelatin silver print with India ink<br/>	*Copyright Shirin Neshat, Courtesy of Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels<br/>	*Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

    Roja
    Shirin Neshat (Iranian born, born in 1957)
    2012
    Photograph, gelatin silver print with India ink
    *Copyright Shirin Neshat, Courtesy of Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels
    *Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Women of Gaza 3<br/>	Tanya Habjouqa (Jordanian, born in 1975)<br/>	2010<br/>	Car on beach with family behind<br/>	*© Tanya Habjouqa<br/>	* Courtesy of the artist and East Wing Contemporary Gallery<br/>	*Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

    Women of Gaza 3
    Tanya Habjouqa (Jordanian, born in 1975)
    2010
    Car on beach with family behind
    *© Tanya Habjouqa
    * Courtesy of the artist and East Wing Contemporary Gallery
    *Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Mother, Daughter, Doll series	Boushra Almutawakel (Yemeni, born in 1969)	2011	Photograph, chromogenic print (archival C-print)	*© Boushra Almutawakel	*Courtesy of the artist and East Wing Contemporary Gallery	*Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

    Mother, Daughter, Doll series Boushra Almutawakel (Yemeni, born in 1969) 2011 Photograph, chromogenic print (archival C-print) *© Boushra Almutawakel *Courtesy of the artist and East Wing Contemporary Gallery *Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Women of Gaza 2<br/>	Tanya Habjouqa (Jordanian, born in 1975)<br/>	2010<br/>	Chromogenic print <br/>		*Courtesy of the artist.<br/>	*© Tanya Habjouqa.<br/>	*Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

    Women of Gaza 2
    Tanya Habjouqa (Jordanian, born in 1975)
    2010
    Chromogenic print
    *Courtesy of the artist.
    *© Tanya Habjouqa.
    *Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Metro #7	Rana El Nemr (born in 1974)	2003	Chromogenic print	*Reproduced with permission.	*Museum purchase with general funds and the Abbott Lawrence Fund.	*Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

    Metro #7 Rana El Nemr (born in 1974) 2003 Chromogenic print *Reproduced with permission. *Museum purchase with general funds and the Abbott Lawrence Fund. *Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • 1.	Untitled #2<br/>	Gohar Dashti (Iranian,born in 1980)<br/>	2008<br/>	Photograph<br/>	*Courtesy Galerie WHITE PROJECT Paris. Reproduced with permission.<br/>	*Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

    1. Untitled #2
    Gohar Dashti (Iranian,born in 1980)
    2008
    Photograph
    *Courtesy Galerie WHITE PROJECT Paris. Reproduced with permission.
    *Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Roja<br/>	Shirin Neshat (Iranian born, born in 1957)<br/>	2012<br/>	Photograph, gelatin silver print with India ink<br/>	*Copyright Shirin Neshat, Courtesy of Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels<br/>	*Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
  • Women of Gaza 3<br/>	Tanya Habjouqa (Jordanian, born in 1975)<br/>	2010<br/>	Car on beach with family behind<br/>	*© Tanya Habjouqa<br/>	* Courtesy of the artist and East Wing Contemporary Gallery<br/>	*Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
  • Mother, Daughter, Doll series	Boushra Almutawakel (Yemeni, born in 1969)	2011	Photograph, chromogenic print (archival C-print)	*© Boushra Almutawakel	*Courtesy of the artist and East Wing Contemporary Gallery	*Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
  • Women of Gaza 2<br/>	Tanya Habjouqa (Jordanian, born in 1975)<br/>	2010<br/>	Chromogenic print <br/>		*Courtesy of the artist.<br/>	*© Tanya Habjouqa.<br/>	*Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
  • Metro #7	Rana El Nemr (born in 1974)	2003	Chromogenic print	*Reproduced with permission.	*Museum purchase with general funds and the Abbott Lawrence Fund.	*Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
  • 1.	Untitled #2<br/>	Gohar Dashti (Iranian,born in 1980)<br/>	2008<br/>	Photograph<br/>	*Courtesy Galerie WHITE PROJECT Paris. Reproduced with permission.<br/>	*Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

From war-torn landscapes taken on the frontlines of conflict to artistic capturing of quiet moments of contemplation, a picture is worth a thousand words. Or, in the case of the pictures of twelve female photographers from the Middle East that recently made up an exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts, a picture is worth a story.

When Kristen Gresh, the current Estrellita and Yousuf Karsh Assistant Curator of Photographs at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston was working as a curator in Cairo, Egypt, and in Paris, France, she saw many works by Middle Eastern photographers. When she returned to the states, she wanted to see some of those artists gain a new audience, through an exhibit she curated at the Museum of Fine Arts, called “She Who Tells a Story.” The exhibit, made up of 12 female photographers, explores themes of gender stereotypes, war and peace, Western stereotypes of women of the Orient and the politics and social landscapes of the Middle East.

“She Who Tells a Story,” has finished its fun at the Museum of Fine Arts, and is now a traveling exhibit. Gresh will be bringing a small piece of it to Jaffrey tomorrow, as the next speaker in the Jaffrey Meetinghouse Amos Fortune Forum lecture series. Gresh will be speaking about some of the photography — and the women behind the camera — but also how the works came together into a cohesive exhibit.

Gresh said she had not set out to create an all-female exhibition. “They were basically the most powerful, evocative and compelling,” Gresh said in a recent phone interview of the images she had chosen. Some of that came from a certain intimacy the photographers were able to achieve with their subjects, that a male photographer might not be able to achieve.

Many of the photos are of women themselves, revealing complex lives that those that only have knowledge of the women of Arab culture from the news or other media don’t get to see. Some of them are stark representations of living life amidst a battle zone, while others show young girls, dressed in a strapless top and shorts, in a bedroom that any American teenager might own.

During the 18-day uprising in Egypt in 2011, photographs were extremely discouraged, but photographer Nermine Hammam took photos of the soldiers anyway. And where many photographers had their cameras physically removed from their hands, Hammam was allowed to keep hers, perhaps because they felt less threatened by a woman, remarked Gresh. Then, she used Photoshop and film layering techniques to place the soldiers in impossibly bright and cheerful kodachrome-hued landscapes, to create a strange juxtaposition. Another photographer in the exhibit, Tanya Habjouqa, took photos of the women of Gaza, in places both public and private, from aerobics classes, to walking the beach and in their home.

“They have an added sensitivity, that comes through creating a proximity to the subjects,” said Gresh.

Others took advantage of their gender to capture images that no man would be allowed, such as Rana El Nemr, who took pictures of mothers and children in subway cars reserved specifically for those groups.

Gresh will be presenting “She Who Tells a Story: Women Photographers from Iran and the Arab World” at the Jaffrey Center Meetinghouse on Friday at 8 p.m. There is no charge for admission, but donations are accepted at the door. For more information, visit www.amosfortune.com.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ex. 244, or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaari.

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