In the Arab world, due to long-held religious beliefs and canonical teachings, the place of the image has always been an uneasy one. Meanwhile, in just a few short years, screens have proliferated everywhere (as in much of the rest of the world). The result is a cultureflooded with media-producing and consuming devices, which lacks in the vocabulary for criticism.
But while the culture at large might not have had sufficient time to develop a response to the contemporary flood of images, Arab artists are actively producing compelling work from a unique and under-represented viewpoint.
To this end, FotoFest International, for its fifteenth Biennial, has curated an exhibition dedicated to Contemporary Arab Photography, Video and Mixed-media Art. The exhibition, titled “View from Inside”, highlights the works of 49 Arab artists from 13 countries in the Middle East and North Africa, with seventeen female artists included.
The generation of artists being shown stand at the crossroads between their individual (and regional) experience and an increasingly globalized one. In the words of senior curator Wendy Watriss, “These artists grew up when satellite television, photo digital technologies, the internet and social media became widespread in the Arab world. They use these global media in individually specific ways, addressing personal experience, and the collective realities of living in the Arab world today. This is the view from inside.”