I was inspired by discussions with David Campbell (Photography, Multimedia, Politics), Jim Johnson (Notes on Politics, Theory and Photography), and Mark Reinhardt (editor of the book Beautiful Suffering: Photography and the Traffic in Pain) to begin this blog again. We were on a roundtable together, along with Victoria Hattam, at the American Political Science Association conference in Toronto last week about the fear of images in political science and the broad topic of politics and photography.
So, I hereby rededicate myself to posting about photography and the Middle East, including some of my own photographs once in a while. Please keep in mind though that this will still be a "slow blog." These will be occasional posts.
In the Nafas Art Magazine there is an interesting article by Nada Shabout, Are Images Global?, about interpreting art from the Middle East. She talks about how interpretation, critical writing and curating art from the region is being done for the most part outside the region, primarily in Europe and the US. She makes the useful point that a consequence of this trend is the lack of understanding of the art's historical context and development and goes on to say:
In my own writing about photography I am very interested in and concerned with historicizing -- putting photographs in the context of the period they emerged from in order to explore how and why they look the way they do. To understand visual images we have to investigate the myriad forces that acted upon them as they were made, such as markets, intellectual trends, politics, technological changes, the photographer's working conditions, etc.
She ends her article just when it gets most interesting:
Addendum added later:
I just saw that the latest Middle East Studies Association Bulletin (Summer/Winter 2008, though it just came out) has a special section called "Art Without History," introduced by Nada Shabout and with 6 other interesting essays on the topic. It's not online, but you might find it in a university library.