“I was raised with people trying to tell me what to do and think,” said Newsha Tavakolian, who shoots for The New York Times from Iran. “Now I want those looking at my work to have their own opinions. I don’t want to enforce any ideas or views upon them. They are free.”
source of inspiration: A Show of Strenght by Middle Eastern Women Photographers
|"Don't forget this is Not for You (for Sahar Letfi)", 2011|
exhibition in Boston, August 27, 2013 - January 12, 2014
The phrase “She Who Tells a Story” comes from the word rawiya (...). But the exhibit doesn’t tell one story; it tells many. (...) Ms. Tavakolian said that while the exhibit cannot really not change anything about the current situation in Egypt or elsewhere in the region, what it could do is help “provide people with the opportunity to see some different perspectives from the region.”
Please, if you would have the opportunity to visit this exhibition, tell me about it, and if these women really challenge the stereotypes in their region, and tell the different stories, could frame the complex identities in their region. Dank u wel :). Let me now rewrite a short story, I wrote for a film project, but let it us put in another context...
White on Paper (retold)
Thousands spirals huddled together. Colors danced and mingled over the entire surface. In this all, she wandered in this insane play of her mind, a young woman, her skin so brown as the heart of ancient trees, her hair as black as the lonely nights without the caress of the moon, and her eyes as dark as still, but deep waters. In this world she could be as free as she wanted. There were no limitations, no expectations... She could be everyone. She could be a queen. Yes, a beautiful, shining, colorful queen, without any scars, without any ropes, without any fear. An artist. In her hands, an old camera, the one she saw using a tourist, appears. In front of her, a corridor, blinding her eyes with a giant light, appeared, and she decided to meet the source of the light. Something in her mind said this would be a great frame for a movie, or a photograph: her feminine silhouette in the backlight.
There was a man waiting for her. He was not like the men in her village. He was tall, taller than any guy, and his skin was so white as the milk her grandmother's goats produced. He reminded her to this tourist of an Iceland, which visited her village some weeks ago, the same tourist with the same camera in her hands. In the memory he had given her only one glance, which freezed time. She didn't know this stranger. Her mother noticed the short interaction, and had her pulled away, from "this strange behavior". But... now she met him again, in his land of ice and snow. He was the opposite of everything what the desert around, in, under her village was promising her. This time she took pictures of him, expressing her feelings, expressing her desires, expressing who she really is...
until the dream ended.
In the real world, her hairs were covered by the rusari, when she walked through alleys which smell like goat piss and the other perfumes of poverty. Her father allows her to take pictures, which he sells in the capital as postcards to tourists. Her father says she has "an eye", not because he knows something about exposure, the golden mean... but the dodgy publisher for who he works, says it. Her father, who worked as tea maker for a publisher, who had found one day some pictures in his wallet. Nobody, in that company, wonder what the boss was looking for in this wallet. Money shuts mouths. He asked who took these pictures, and her father, who has a talent for knowing what people want to hear, said he took these pictures. Since then her father is tea maker, photographer and also, as second job outside the publisher, vendor of photographs he cannot sell to the paper. She knew this. She could work as photographer, in Iran, if she wanted, but not now... she is a clever girl. Her talent is to know what people don't want to hear. She tells herself she just waits for a moment, when everything will be ok, when her dreams full of colors, and the white papers of the books of her father's boss will mingle.
But this tourist changed everything...
He appeared more often in her dreams. She was almost afraid to fell asleep, because she didn't want to hear her family hear her moaning. 16 year old girls shouldn't have desires... One morning, when her youngest sister and she were doing the dishes in a bucket outside, her sister confirmed her biggest fear. "Why are you making so weird noises? What do you dream about?"
"I dream about... camels... that I am a camel."
Her younger sister start laughing. "You're so weird."
Weird is better than naughty.
Still, anxious, she took her grandfather's camera, and went into the desert, to calm down there.
Landscapes, impressions... got an eternal print, but couldn't brand away the image in her mind, of this tall, white man. She stopped, in the middle of nothing.
She raised her hands, and by both her thumb and forefinger of each hand, she made a frame, looking for a picture that would make her happy ... that would set her thoughts free ...
... and he appeared in the frame.
Her arms fell.
Stunned, she stared at the tourist. This is impossible. So... God still exists in this reality? It has to be... because only He could have brought him. This is a sign. These time the glance was longer, long enough to invite her to come. Slowly, she went to him, and although he didn't smile, she came closer and closer, and stopped one meter for him, impressed by his appearance. His eyes are so blue... as ice... She never had seen ice, only in the magazines her father brought home. What happens now? She wants to touch him, and then he also raises his hand, to touch her fingers, but exactly at the moment when her hand palm was going to feel his finger tops, he disappeared in a fata morgana. Afraid - fear for loosing it- she swirl around like a jinn. Where is he? Then she stopped, and understood something every woman one day will realise. Who do I really miss?
She looked in the sun, not afraid to burn her eyes, and then tried to capture every color of this light with her camera. When her film roll was finished, she sighed. It was just all a dream...
Her father noticed that his daughter looked more sad than she usual was, but he didn't ask her why. Something in him wanted to ask her, hug her, take off this rusari from her head and kiss her black hairs, but there were other men, not so far from them, so he followed her via the door into his own small kingdom, where his queen carries the real scepter.
Three days later, her father faced two upset guys. One of them always developed his film rolls, the other was his boss. They did not understand the reason of the subject, lying on the table between them. The father was so chocked that his talent did not connect with his mouth. Possessed by anger, maybe fear, he took the pictures, and went home, to find his eldest daughter. She was cleaning the windows, and wanted to greet him with a smile, but the devil's laugh in his eye made her freeze. He pulled her inside, and threw the pictures in her face. "What is this?"
Trembling, confused, she took the pictures, and then she saw the most unbelievable. It is magic.
Then a smile appeared, for a very first time on her dry lips, and she looked up.
"This is who I really am."
Her deepest desire was translated on white paper.
Her story of longing. Her identity. Her search for freedom...
Her dumb and forefinger did not hold pictures showing the sun, but showing him.
Her dreams, full of colors, really mingled with the white paper.
There was hope...
if there is magic in the world.