When Nesa’iyéh first launched, I was excited to see the public’s reaction at having a Palestinian resistance-themed photography exhibit go live in a major American city. What I failed to recognize, however, was the exhibit’s role in objectifying its subjects—Palestinian women of all ages—as novel additions to the resistance movement, as things to be looked at and admired for their beauty above all else. Needless to say, I am no longer excited.
Before diving into this issue, there are a few points that need to be made. First, I understand that some people aren’t too comfortable with the idea of a male discussing the objectification of women in society. I can also understand that I have little to no authority on the matter since, after all, I’m not the subject of objectification. But I do have a point to make, one that I hope will keep others from following in the footsteps of Nesa’iyéh‘s creators and curators.
Second, I haven’t been to the physical exhibit but I’ve seen enough of the photographs to reasonably conclude that something is amiss.
Third, and most importantly, I wouldn’t be writing this if it weren’t for Deema Alsaafin and her eyeopening piece on how the exhibit, in her words, “offends the Palestinian cause“.
Mati Milstein is a veteran Israeli photojournalist who, in March 2011, sought to present the “unphotographed story of Palestinian women” standing up to, among other things, “the chauvinism and patriarchalism of traditional Palestinian society”. To Milstein, this is a “new reality”, an “emerging paradigm”, the revolutionary Palestinian woman. [Read more...]