The Orientalizing lens

An interesting Aperture article by Haleh Ansari raises some of the questions we hope to confront in Visual Literacy. How strong is the Western stranglehold on framing imagery that it precludes any other readings besides those that play to exoticising expectations? By asking two pioneering photographers--Newsha Tavakolian, Magnum’s first Middle Eastern woman photographer, and Simindokht Dehghani, the owner ofAg Galerie, one of Tehran’s most progressive spaces for new photography--to propose a different edit of the photoshoot deemed deeply reductive of Shahla Yasini, an Iranian surfer, the author resurfaces with a reinvigorated (although perhaps partial) sense of how to propose new ways of seeing.

"In the end, we are left with an eye-catching portrait: at best, reminiscent of a fashion shoot; and at worst, an unintentional promotional poster that obscures the story of the young woman surfer—a story that might have provided a more textured understanding of Iran, a country whose image is stultified by repetitive clichés, perpetuated both by outsiders and its own government." (click on the photo to link to the full article)