The inaugural exhibition at Aperture Foundation’s new gallery is a multifaceted view of the Arab world seen through the eyes of seventeen contemporary Arab photographers. The largest collection of photographs about Arab cultures ever exhibited in the West, Nazar offers a fresh, revealing, and personal record of everyday Arab life that transcends the romanticized and politicized images that saturate contemporary media. The exhibition includes a multimedia presentation entitled A Look Back, featuring historical work from Arab countries and the Arab Image Foundation archive in Beirut.
Nazar was brought to the United States from the Noorderlicht Photofestival in The Netherlands and had its American debut at FotoFest, Houston, to critical acclaim in the spring of 2005. The exhibition provides an insight into the cultural, political, social, religious, economic, and aesthetic forces that have determined the evolution of photography—both documentary and fine art—from North Africa, Lebanon, and Palestine, to Egypt, Syria, and Bahrain. Ranging from passionately documentary to technically innovative to subversively banal, these images challenge preconceived views about the region. The first survey of this magnitude, Nazar will be a revelation to viewers and a welcome introduction to an unfamiliar but increasingly vital center of photography.
The accompanying book of the same title (Aperture, September 2005), edited by Wim Melis, the curator of the Noorderlicht Photofestival and organizer of the exhibition, includes essays by seven international writers who explore diverse facets of this rich range of imagery by photographers previously little known outside the Middle East.