Within the Frame

The first major museum show of photography from the region commonly called the Middle East deals mostly with predictable themes, but often reveals fresh techniques and insights

01 March 2013
"The Break" from Egyptian artist Nermine Hammam’s series Upekkha (2011). Inspired by the country’s recent civil unrest, the series combines hand-painted subjects with digitally manipulated photographs.
© ART FUND COLLECTION OF MIDLE EASTERN PHOTOGRAPHY AT THE VA AND THE BRITISH MUSEUM
"The Break" from Egyptian artist Nermine Hammam’s series Upekkha (2011). Inspired by the country’s recent civil unrest, the series combines hand-painted subjects with digitally manipulated photographs.
© ART FUND COLLECTION OF MIDLE EASTERN PHOTOGRAPHY AT THE VA AND THE BRITISH MUSEUM

AT THE VICTORIA & Albert Museum’s Porter Gallery, which is small and intimate, I ended up accidentally trailing an elderly, distinguished-looking gentleman and his young, suavely dressed student. I couldn’t help it; we were attending Light from the Middle East: New Photography, looking at photographs on display in almost exactly the same order. At one point, we were gazing at Israeli artist Tal Shochat’s Persimmon, Pomegranate and Grapefruit—where she applies the conventions of studio portraiture to photographing trees whose leaves and fruit are carefully dusted and polished to a shine.

“Look at the pomegranate,” said the gentleman.

His young friend obediently furrowed his brows.

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    Janice Pariat is the author of Seahorse: A Novel and Boats on Land: A Collection of Short Stories for which she was awarded the Sahitya Akademi’s Young Writer Award and the Crossword Award for Fiction in 2013. She is currently based in New Delhi.

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