blackbird Spring 2008  Vol. 7  No. 1


Levis Found Portraits
John Ravenal
David Roby

Perspectives in Photography and Video


Curated by Natalie Bailey and Sally Van Gorder, Self-Representation in the Arabian Gulf: Perspectives in Photography and Video was an exhibition of work by twelve artists on the Doha, Qatar campus of Virginia Commonwealth University from October 24–December 1, 2007. Work by four of these artists are published in this issue of Blackbird along with commentary by the artists republished from the exhibition catalog. In addition, Bailey and Van Gorder are quoted below from their introductory catalog essays.

 Autobiography 03-07 Part 2 (still of video on exhibition monitor)

from “Photography, Self-Portraiture, and Representation”
The popularity of the photography medium in the Gulf should not be overlooked. Although artists of all media work in this region, the large inclusion of video and photographic works at the recent Sharjah Biennials is significant. Largely Bedouin and pearl-diving communities, the Arabian Gulf is one of the fastest-developing regions in the world. With the discovery and exploitation of oil and natural gas in the latter part of the 20th century, the region became prosperous and has experienced immense growth. It is a region rooted in Muslim beliefs and traditions, but its residents now live traditional lives in an ultra-contemporary global community.
—Natalie Bailey

from “A Community Reflected”
The . . . artists included in this show each operate within his or her own distinct social, religious, and cultural framework, but make images in response to being part of the particular context of the Gulf. Their work remains true to personal belief systems but has the courage to ask questions, to initiate discussion, to risk contradiction, and embrace the complexities that arise from an examination of the self, and to search for the authentic.
—Sally Van Gorder
  end of text

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