In recent times, much of the Arab world has experienced protest action, and while the political and economic demands differed between uprisings, at the core of each movement was the desire for a better future. This exhibition of images, video, and writing, takes its title from graffiti scrawled across a wall in Baghdad that encapsulates this desire: ‘All What I Want is Life.’
The artists represented here reside among the communities depicted in their work, and through their interpretations of these events, offer a variety of perspectives on the uprisings—a refreshing antidote to the mainstream media’s simplistic and trope-ridden depiction.
This recent wave of protest action began with Sudan, in December of 2018.
Lana Haroun’s image of Alaa Salah reverberated across the world, bringing the central role of Sudanese women in the country’s uprising to computers and mobile phones everywhere. Her powerful image embodies the hopes and wishes of millions of people, yearning for a life with dignity. In stark contrast are three haunting portraits by Salih Basheer, reminding us why these protests occur in the first place. Their faces deliberately obscured, these tea-ladies symbolise the erasure and marginalisation felt over the last 30 years by the women of South Sudan.
In Algeria, it was the football stadium that incubated the uprising. Fethi Sahraoui’s multimedia piece Youthupia: an Algerian Tale, explores the role played by young people, who found a space to express themselves within stadia across the country.
Their actions then motivated the wider population to demand change. In A Little Louder by Abdo Shanan, we are forced to consider what personal justice means within this wider political upheaval, as we are transported to the midst of a crowd.
Myriam Boulos captures the outpourings of hope from Lebanese protestors; her fill-flash technique indiscriminately illuminates their diverse identities—highighting the range of religious adherence, political persuasion, age, ethnicity, and gender. Elsewhere, Tamara Abdul Hadi and Roï Saade create diptychs of dual perspective—each pairing becomes a window into how various elements interact at the site of action: the places, people, outbursts, writings.
Amir Hazim’s prolific documentation of Iraqi demonstrations offers us wide-ranging insights from Baghdad, that help us see beyond the ubiquitous frontline-style imagery—glances of quiet moments in-between, a sense of community amongst the protesters, and the after-effects of a long and tiring campaign. Abdullah Dhiaa Al-Deen documents the ‘Anti-Teargas Grenade Squad’, a group of individuals whose mission is to mitigate harm inflicted on civilians by repelling teargas used by the authorities.
Curated by Raz Hansrod & Mohamed Somji
Protest Photography and the Legacy of Moments in West Asia and Northern Africa
Read a reflection on the exhibition and the works exhibited in 'All I Want is Life: Protest Photography and the Legacy of Moments in West Asia and Northern Africa, written by researcher and educator Abdulla Moaswes (@karakmufti)
Maryam Al Dabbagh & the Rouya Consultancy team, Abdulla Moaswes, Zehra Naqvi, Reem Falaknaz,
Pesha Magid & The National.
For more information, please contact Raz Hansrod at email@example.com