Rawiya | She Who Tells a Story at Gulf Photo Plus

© Tanya Habjouqa

© Tanya Habjouqa

Rawiya is a female photography collective from the Middle East founded by Myriam Abdelaziz, Tamara Abdul Hadi, Laura Boushnak and Tanya Habjouqa. Their latest exhibition, "She Who Tells a Story" (the English translation for Rawiya) will showcase their recent work at Gulf Photo Plus. The exhibition will open on Monday, 9th September till Wednesday, 16th October.

While clearly shaped by and within the context of larger social and political realties, these are not photographs documenting catastrophe or violence, but instead simple, universally human moments.  In presenting these works together in conversation, the exhibition expands the monolithic narrative of the region by collapsing it down to the minute and mutable possibilities of the everyday.

In addition to the exhibition, there there will be a talk led by Rawiya members Laura Boushnak and Tamara Abdul Hadi on Tuesday, 10th September at 7pm. They will offer further insight to the photographs within the exhibition as well as additional projects by the Rawiya members. The talk is free to attend, but registration is required.  

Below are some photos from the exhibition with background information about each series. If you are in Dubai, don't miss this.

Tanya Habjouqa - Occupied Pleasures

The scenes captured in Tanya Habjouqa’s 'Occupied Pleasures' – families on picnics, children swimming, young girls preparing for a party, women practicing yoga or attending a wedding – are both hauntingly fleeting and decidedly commonplace.  The juxtaposition is a common one for Palestinians, whose daily existence often includes the intersection of the bizarre and the banal. The series reveals quirky and lighthearted moments of respite for Palestinians coping with limited freedom of movement within a society most often seen through the lens of hard news.


© Tanya Habjouqa

Laura Boushnak - I Read I Write: Yemen - Access to Education

Laura Boushnak presents a selection from the series 'I Read I Write: Yemen - Access to Education', the continuation of an ongoing project documenting women and education across the Arab world. Her subjects are all women – the first members in their families to pursue higher education – depicted both facing the camera with a warm, direct gaze and taking part in a tableau of daily scenes. The images are inscribed with the women’s handwritten text that reflects Boushnak’s conversations with the students about their achievements and aspirations, as well as the challenges they face in an ultraconservative society, where the prevailing role for women is limited to marriage and the home.


© Laura Boushnak


© Laura Boushnak

Tamara Abdul Hadi - Ramallah, 2011

Moving beyond questions of how those living in marginalized communities are seen by others, 'Ramallah, 2011' by Tamara Abdul Hadi is itself an interactive exercise, in which the individuals being photographed have the ability to control their own image and decide how to represent themselves.  Handing control to her subjects – children, women, older men, and teenagers – Abdul Hadi invites those living in Ramallah to take their own portraits. The resulting images challenge static notions of documentation, and leave viewers face to face with individuals, unobstructed by another’s perspective.


© Tamara Abdul Hadi


© Tamara Abdul Hadi

Myriam Abdelaziz - Cairo Dances 

Reflecting divergent, yet in the end parallel stories of women pursuing their dreams within the constraints of a social context, Myriam Abdelaziz’s series 'Cairo Dances' offers an intimate portrait of Egyptian belly dancers.  Striking enticing poses in ornate, if slightly faded, costumes against a simple studio background, the women have a monumental, almost memorialized quality to them.  The series is an effort, Abdelaziz explains, to document an endangered species, as a combination of economic and socio-religious factors lead fewer Egyptian women to continue the tradition so historically strongly associated with the country.

© Myriam Abdelaziz


Event details


Opening on Monday 9th September, 7.00-10.00pm. Exhibition will run till 16th October 2013.

Artist Talk on Tuesday 10th September at 7.00pm. Register here.

Venue: Gulf Photo Plus, Alserkal Avenue, Unit D36, Street 8, Al Quoz 1, Dubai (location map)

Free entry.