Bite! magazine » Middle East

All Of This Brought Me Back To My Love Of Science Fiction

“My son, there will be a post petrodollar economy in Arabia and it will be up to you create it.” That is what Sheikh Maktoum’s father said in 1990, shortly before his death, says Swiss photographer Florian Joye. “I chose the United Arab Emirates to work on, and especially Dubai, for a variety of reasons. After googling Dubai on the net, my curiosity and interest were drawn to the confusing mass of Dubai images that can be found there. The vast juxtaposition of virtual images, scale models and augmented reality of which there were many more than real pictures of Dubai is confusing. The idea of the city preceded its reality. My fascination for this new city caught between utopia and excessiveness, pride and seduction is the palpable reality of the purpose o f Sheikh Maktoum.”

These Children Are Almost Exclusively Sunni

The first is from the Al Ahlam compound in Khadamiyah, Baghdad. It was shot at the juvenile detention centre in early 2007, when the so-called surge by American forces was going on.Iraqi security forces, highly sectarian at the time, were also busy asserting themselves. These children were almost exclusively Sunni, and had seemingly for the most part been picked up for minor offenses, or simply rounded up in whole-sale sweeps of Sunni neighborhoods.Only one of the kids seemed to have been involved in really bad stuff: kidnappings and IEDs.

Soon, Hospitality Replaced Hostility And Suspicion

What I find interesting is that I guess the majority of us expects a different world view from Dvir, being a descendant of Israel. But he does the opposite. His choice is to use his professional life as a photographer to get close. And by getting close in images he shows me the world and growing up of people that he is supposed to call ‘the enemy’. He gives me hope with his portraits and even very literally in his words when I quote Natan Dvir:

“If I, a Jewish Israeli man, have been accepted and was allowed into my subjectsʼ personal lives – so can other.”

Mohammed Cares For His Pigeons

I was deeply touched by the work presented here today. Eman Mohammed’s series were suggested to me by my friend Dalia Khamissy, who urged me to show Mohammed’s work here on Bite! Knowing that Eman Mohammed (23) lives in Gaza herself, in the midst of the devastation and the rubble she describes and portrays, I admire her braveness for daring to pick up a camera to show us the country of her family which has been struck so violently. By revealing the circumstances in which Mohammed Khader, his wife Ebtesam and their 22 family members find themselves, Eman takes me by the hand and brings me close to their home and her heart. I can almost feel the grown ups of the family struggling to show strength, so that the children and grandchildren can carry on.

Increasingly I Find Myself Distanced From Hard News

Forgetting is not an option in the seemingly eternal and interwoven conflicts of the Middle East. Increasingly finding myself distanced from hard news, I am drawn to the humor and contradiction prevalent within the diversity of Middle Eastern culture(s). I want to provoke the audience to reflect on regional social issues, stereotypes, and realities. The perpetual images of blood, suffering, and conflict are not the only defining characteristics of the Middle East.

I Was Humbled By People’s Resilience And Hospitality

The focus of my photography is the Middle East, on women and children especially. Lebanon in particular is interesting because of its key location as a gate to the Middle East, between the West and the Arab world. I grew up and lived in both Lebanon and the U.S. I am a Lebanese insider who speaks the language, knows the country, and understands its people, but also an outsider who can see Lebanon and its complexities through Western eyes, who can still be intrigued by the dichotomies that are shocking to the Westerner, but unnoticed by the locals.

Afterwards They Wear Wings On Their Shoulders

Pause For Thought, Even If Just For A Microsecond

Turn Right is a term lifted from military vocabulary, and hence a priori it is no wonder that I would choose it as a title for my photo series on Palestinian soldiers. My soldiers, however, are not shown marching or parading. Most of them are not moving at all in front of the camera. Their very stillness reveals the complex resonance of the title which, depending on how one reads the two constituent words, can be taken to mean very different things: a command to turn right, a right or correct change of direction, or the right to change direction. Faced with the simple command: Right Turn!, every soldier and, generally, every human being, would pause for thought, even if just for a microsecond, before reacting. The response, if it leads to an observable external action, would not, however, reveal anything about the inner state of mind. Indeed, in view of the complexities of today’s socio-political environment and of individual histories, what would be the right turn to take? Should one turn to the right, turn around in circles, turn back, or turn away?

Being On The Edge Between Two Worlds

As a mother of a teenage daughter I have been watching with awe her passage from girlhood into adulthood, with all the complications that it entails. As I am observing her and her girlfriends, I became fascinated with the transformation taking place, with the adult personality shaping up and with an insecurity and a self-consciousness that are now replacing the carefree world those girls had live in so far. I started photographing them in group situations, and quickly realized that they were so aware of each other’s presence, and that their being in a group affected very much whom they were portraying to the world. I also realized that under an air of self-assurance, those young women were often very fragile, self-conscious and confused. While their bodies were developing fast into women’s bodies, they were still young girls who suddenly thought they had to behave like adults.

It Is A Stage That Becomes A Metaphor For Life

I was attracted to Mirzaei’s series Human because of it very graphic nature. With this work the viewer has to approach very closely to see the images are actually photographic in nature, and not drawn or cut out silhouettes. It is as if you are looking through a microscope at scenes from the proverbial ant heap. Like a film maker, Mirzaei has zoomed out to capture different configurations, deciding when the shot was right or whether to wait for a few moments for the actors to regroup in different postures.