This image from Jowhara AlSaud's series Out of LIne is a comment on censorship in Saudi Arabia and it's effects on visual communication. There are regions in Saudi Arabia where lines are still drawn across throats in photographs (figuratively cutting the head off.) Faces are blurred on billboards. Skirts and sleeves are crudely lengthened with black markers on women's outfits in magazines. Art, as everything else here, is governed by Islamic law. Figurative work is still considered by many to be sinful.

AlSaud began applying the language of the censors to personal photographs, making line drawings, omitting faces, and kept only the essentials. This preserved the anonymity of my subjects, which allowed me more freedom as it is still taboo to have one's portrait hanging in a gallery or someone else's home. When reduced to sketches, the images achieved enough distance from the original photographs that neither subjects nor censors could find them objectionable. They became autonomous, minimal narratives.  In etching these drawings back into film and printing them in an analogue darkroom, she points to the malleability of the medium, before even the advances and accessibility of digital manipulation. It becomes a highly coded and self-reflexive language. .

Jowhara AlSaud (born in Saudi Arabia, 1978) holds a BA in film theory from Wellesley College and an MFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts/Tufts University. She recently had a two-person exhibition at Howard Yezerski Gallery, Boston, and a solo show at Schneider Gallery, Chicago. AlSaud splits her time between New York and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. 

To see more of her work, please visit her website.


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