Light from the Middle East: New Photography presents work by artists from across the Middle East (spanning North Africa to Central Asia), living in the region and in diaspora.
The exhibition seeks to explore the ways in which these artists investigate the language and techniques of photography. Some use the camera to record or bear witness, while others subvert that process to reveal how surprisingly unreliable a photograph can be. The works range from documentary photographs and highly staged tableaux to images manipulated beyond recognition. The variety of approaches is appropriate to the complexities of a vast and diverse region.
Light from the Middle East is divided into three sections, Recording, Reframing and Resisting, each of which focuses on a different approach to the medium of photography.
On the left for example, Mehraneh Atashi (born 1980, Tehran, Iran) explores the relationship between photography and power in her ongoing investigation into the possibilities of self-portraiture. Her photographic series reveal lesser-known aspects of Iranian life.
This photograph shows the inside of a zurkhana, a traditional Iranian wrestling gym, in Tehran. The artist has explained that ‘tradition forbids the breath of women’ in the zurkhana. Atashi includes herself in the scene through a reflection in a mirror. This picture within a picture emphasises her incongruous presence in a place from which women are normally excluded.
Victoria and Albert Museum Website