For these evenings we asked photographers to think about their work in relation to the format of the slideshow and matched them up with musicians who made a soundscape for this work and who mostly played live during the evenings. The results were phenomenal. We presented a new way of experiencing photography.
We are now hoping to take some of these slides on the road. Stay tuned!
In this compilation you see footage of the following slides:
“We together” brings together female artists with backgrounds in the Middle East, as well as in Europe and the USA. They have in common that they are critical in their photography and video work with female identities and everyday environments, personal situations, dependencies, gender roles and the political changes in a regional as well as global context. 14 different views on women by women.
Raeda Saadeh danced during an intense and haunting performance at the vernissage, visited by a big crowd. Meeting her, getting to know her work, spending some days with both her and Maryam has been heartwarming. Raeda’s vision as an artist, Maryam’s drive and passion to show the world a different view and get people together and connected is incredibly inspiring. Do take a moment to get to know their work.
Until the 18th of December on view in Schaumbad – Freies Atelierhaus, Graz
#Dysturb is an incredible project created by Pierre Tjerdman and Benjamin Girettein response to the lack of publications of specific news topics in our mainstream media.
They decided to plaster their images on the walls of Paris and with a proper caption, inform people in the city about things happening around the world which magazines and newspapers didn’t publish.
And so now it’s the first time #dysturb is hitting Belgium streets and I couldn’t be happier that they chose an image of mine from the ‘Because I’m a girl’ series on Rape in Pakistan.
The topic of rape, violation and sexual predatory behavior now even seems more of an acute topic with a horrible man like Donald Trump running for the office of President of the United States of America while publicly denouncing and degrading women, even on record saying how he forces himself on women by kissing and groping them without their consent.
It’s beyond mind boggling and I would recommend you watching a speech that Michelle Obama gave a good week ago, stating perfectly what I feel on the topic.
“Strong men, who are truly ROLE MODELS, don’t need to put down Women”
It’s estimated that worldwide 1 in 5 women will become the victim of rape or attempted rape during her life.
Violence against women is prevalent all over the world and rape in particular has become a ‘weapon of war’ and tool to systematically oppress, control and marginalize women.
I started working on the topic of rape in Pakistan in 2011 and continue to do so on each visit. It’s so important as it is still very much a taboo subject.
In Pakistan around 85% of women face various forms of gender-based violence.
Women and girls are being murdered, kidnapped, raped, killed for honor, have acid thrown on to them.
The Pakistani government rarely takes action and the perpetrators are hardly punished. Unreliable statistics hide the actual magnitude of the problem. Data gathered by the police is notoriously unreliable because of underreporting of cases or their refusal to lodge F.I.R.’s (First Information Report) needed to start criminal procedures.
Maryam (not her real name) was raped by her school teacher when she was just 5 years old.
When asked what the biggest change in her daughter was after the rape happened, Maryam’s mother said she wasn’t carefree anymore and didn’t smile as often as she used to…
I walked to the rape and murder site with the father of Ali, a boy who was raped and killed in the outskirts of Karachi. His grandmother crying while the family told me the horrific story of what had happened.
Besides suffering psychological trauma and the attached stigmatization, the women and their families are often harassed by the families of the rapist.
They blackmail the victims and try to persuade them into dropping the case or settle out of court. Like Jamila, mother of Sobia, a girl who was raped and killed by a young men who she went to school with and whose wedding proposal she refused. The culprit ran away and still to this day is not found and brought to justice. Meanwhile the neighborhood threaten to abuse Jamila’s other still surviving daughter Sana, hoping the family will then drop their court case.
It’s an uphill battle for all the victims and families I met. Young girls get robbed of their smiles, some women carry lasting physical scars, boys are as vulnerable as girls, their innocence easily taken away.
As always, I continue to work on these topics that become personal to me once you know some of the families. I hope having my image plastered on the walls of Liège and writing about it here will add a little drop of awareness one way or the other.
Belgium has been rocked by extreme violence last week, with the brutal bomb blasts in the airport and metro of Brussels, killing and wounding so many people.
After following the news that day in what felt like a haze, making sure all my friends living and working in Brussels were safe, I knew things in Belgium will never be the same again. From now on there will be a before… and an after…
I won’t let fear stop me from taking another flight at Brussels airport and when visiting friends or places in town, I will still take the metro. But in the back of your mind, a thought will always, ever so slightly cross your mind…
Will I be safe…
And then today… Another heinous suicide attack in Lahore, Pakistan, killing at least 69 people, wounding hundreds.. mostly women and children. Targeted specifically on this day, Easter, against the Christian Minority of Lahore.
Another attack in a countless number of them that Pakistan has known over the years, where we don’t really hear world leaders speaking up.
Again religion being misused by extremists, to kill human beings who are enjoying an evening out in the park with their families, friends hanging out, generally people having a good time, not hurting anyone. Gone…
I’ve come to know many Christian families in Pakistan and photographed for a while in a Christian community in Islamabad a few years ago. And what I always try to do in all my work is show the person in my photographs. A humanity, shared humanity, so we don’t focus on our differences, but on what we have in common. Rich or poor, black or white, Muslim, Christian or Atheist, in the first place we are human being who want the same things in life.
Why? How can they kill in the name of anything really? On the basis of another God you worship? Another color of ones skin? Another language you speak? What makes them decide they have the right to choose that another life, another human being is not worth living and you can just kill them off? Just like that…
I’m just so sick of it all…
Today is World TB day, and it reminded me of an assignment I did 3 years ago with Doctors without Borders.
I traveled to Tajikistan, where I photographed children being treated by MSF for Multiple Drug resistant TB (MDR TB), a very long and hard process for these often very young children. Try explaining to a 6 year old to take multiple medicine every day that give multiple side effects for about 2 years but which are necessary to get cured …
This year’s World TB theme is ‘Unite to end TB’ and that title reminded me of photographing my first patient in Dushanbe. 18 year old Mijgona, who was the first fully cured MDR TB patient in MSF‘s TB program in Tajikistan, which was being celebrated with a small party.
United in celebrating. A happy moment and hopefully it was a reminder for some of the other children still in process of the treatment, that there was hope.
On this International Women’s day, I want to introduce you to an amazing woman that I am honored to call my friend.
Sheema Kermani, dancer, theatre director and activist from Karachi, Pakistan.
She lives in a country where women’s rights still have a long way to go. Where some laws might be changing slowly in favor of equal rights, but where implementing these laws is not really happening yet.
She lives in a place where people still look down upon the art of dancing, deemed as unislamic and improper.
All that doesn’t stop Sheema, who is a true force of energy, which is needed to keep motivated in advocating change that isn’t effecting in immediate results. She teaches the Indian classical dance art like Bharatanatyam and Odissi to young women and uses theatre to bring messages of equal rights, violence against women, rape etc to villages all over Pakistan where the majority of the people can’t even read or write.
In an interview with her she also says this: ‘The arts and the women of Pakistan have been the two major victims of Zia’s policies. The state introduced legal and social forms of control over women as part of its campaign of suppression and made women’s sexuality their business. State forces were preoccupied with women’s dress, their movements, their sexuality and their very presence in public spaces. In the name of religion, laws like the “Hudood Ordinances”, “Qisas”, “Diyat” and “Blasphemy Laws” were introduced and are prime examples of laws that devalue women, arts and humanity. The very first programme that was banned on PTV by Gen. Zia ul Haq was ‘Payal,’ a dance programme. But as it happens with anything that is banned, people always find a way to circumvent it. We do not announce our institution as a dance academy. We offer training in dance but call it movement classes. I run Tehrik-e-Niswan and we use dance as a movement for theatre of protest.’
Women like Sheema are an inspiration to me. They breathe energy and power. The power of women.
So… happy women’s day Sheema. Thank you for being a beautiful part of my life.