Thursday, January 24, 2008


Not quite Bathers by the Seine

Iranian Pilgrims in Sanliurfa Turkey, by the sacred pool of the prophet Abraham. All covered up even on vacation. The only feature that separate them from mere shadows in this photo are the hands. Even the only face is partially obscured. Hands outstretched, palms up, in submission. This vaguely reminds me of one of Cartier-Bresson's India photos albeit in a less powerful form. The hands are not covered because they need to be exploited; taken for granted.

"People reside inside their bodies for decades, but they rarely examine these vessels and all their intricate, dutiful parts. A house is more easily remembered than a body. One can describe the number of rooms, the glass in the windows, the colour of the walls, the tiles in the bathroom."
Dalia Sofer
, The Septembers of Shiraz


Anonymous danthro said...

it's an interesting shot, but i doubt if you'd spoken to these women they would have considered their attire so oppressive themselves. they should have the right to dress that way if they want to, without others imposing other cultural interpretations on them in such an Orientalist (see Edward Said) fashion

2:45 am  
Blogger Jammy said...

Hi danthro, thanks for your comment!
I must confess that I did not speak to these women. I agree with you that people have the right to dress the way they want to. My only caveat is that they should genuinely want to dress in that manner and not because of a state enforced dress code for women. Perhaps my suggestion that they are dressed up even o vacation might have a negative connotation. But I was trying to highlight the impact of societal conditioning. As a photographer yourself, you would most surely understand that a photographer frames what he sees from his point of view. Unless of course he is a documentary or news photographer. I dare not speak for these women in the photograph. I photograph them as icons or symbols. Perhaps the association of having exploited hands taken for granted might again give the impression of negativity. There is none. It is a fact that most of us do take our hands for granted.

You have kindly referred me to Edward Said, even at the risk of being labeled a reverse Orientalist, and so let me refer you to Renoir or Manet's paintings on bathers by/at the seine. You would see that they are studies of the human form, the human body, which we take for granted and abuse. Rest assured I understand the significance of the Burqa and I respect this significance. But I am not so narrow minded to suggest that one cannot engage in dialogue over it( as we are doing now). Thanks again for your comments.

11:33 pm  

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