|An image by Newsha Tavakolian from Realism in Rawiya|
Realism in Rawiya presents the work of Rawiya – the first all-female photographic collective to emerge from the Middle East. Operating within what is still a predominantly male-dominated industry, and one fraught with politics, the group credits pooling resources and talents for their rapidly developing profile throughout the Middle Eastern region and beyond. Following on from their success at FORMAT photography festival in 2011, this exhibition marks Rawiya’s first major group exhibition in the UK.
Rawiya, meaning ‘she who tells a story’ or ‘storyteller’ in Arabic, presents the photographers Myriam Abdelaziz (currently in Cairo), Laura Boushnak (currently in Sarajevo), Tanya Habjouqa (currently in East Jerusalem), Tamara Abdul Hadi (currently in Beirut), Dalia Khamissy (currently in Beirut) and Newsha Tavakolian (currently in Tehran).
Each artist established their individual careers as photojournalists, working for news agencies and publications across the Arab world. By living and reporting in the region, the photographers gained an insider’s view of the extremities of these settings, whilst also observing how their reportage could become reframed in the international media’s final edit of events. This shared experience inspired the members to create their own platform, to present what they felt to be the wider political and social stories currently going unseen.
Presented as a collective body of work which bridges the worlds of documentary and art, this exhibition captures the vision of the Rawiya: a multitude of stories and first-hand accounts which challenge the status quo of racism and orientalism often presented in mainstream media.With a specific focus on gender and identity, the exhibition presents a thoughtful viewof a region in flux, balancing its contradictions while reflecting on social and political issues and stereotypes.