Two outstanding female photographers have been showing their work at the latest photo fair in Paris.
They have been championed by East Wing, an organisation based in Qatar that aims to
‘present new perspectives on topics that matter through pioneering photography and art.’
Boushra Almutawakel from Yemen is one of them.
She presented two photo series on the demands of Islamic dress – in one called What If, she reversed male and female dress codes.
“I heard some really strong comments that I am anti-religious and I should burn in hell,” she told euronews. “Some men found it offensive and they thought I was attacking them as men and attacking their maleness and attacking Islam which is far from the truth. It’s simply a fantasy in my mind and I thought I would just create it photograpically.”
Another set on the same subjet used mother, daughter and doll photographs and challenging the freedom of artistic expression in Yemen
“You can express youself but within limits,” Almutawakel explained. “For example with these (photos) I used myself which was really frightening for me I mean the day before the exhibition I thought I should just stop it because I was afraid of the reaction of everyone: my familly specially and I did it because I could not and women who were willing to be photographed but I am conservativelly dressed – I think I am saying something strongly but but its still within the limits you know like I am not wearing a bikini.”
Newsha Tavakolian is from Iran, a country where women are banned from singing alone on a stage for a general audience.
Her project ‘Listen’ consists of portraits and CD covers for those professional singers who only can perform for women.
In some cases her subjects were so fearful of getting into trouble that it took her a year to persuade them in front of the camera.
“In a country like Iran politics is involved in every part of our life,” she told euronews, “so I can not say that my work is not about politics. I censor myself because I want to show my work in Iran and its important for me – I always get the best answers and critics because they speak the same language, they live in the same place so for them its not exotic. They dont say: ‘Oh poor woman, poor Iranian’. No, they are very critic (sic), they are very sharp and I love more to show my work in Iran than outside Iran.”
Tavakolian began working as a photographer in the Iranian press at 16. She covered wars, natural disasters and social documentary stories from Iraq to Yemen and Pakistan.