RIYADH: The embassies of Germany and France in Riyadh hosted documentary photography exhibitions in May.
The Goethe Institute, the French Embassy, and the Alliance Francaise in Saudi Arabia, in collaboration with Gharem Studio, set up a project in October 2022 called “Lens for Equality,” dedicated exclusively to documentary photography.
The genre refers to a form of photography which is used to show specific situations or environments, and also everyday events.
These photographs tend to be taken by professional photojournalists or reporters, but sometimes by amateurs.
Authorship of the genre is generally attributed to American historian Beaumont Newhall who, in March 1938, published the article “Documentary Approach to Photography.”
Artists participating took part in a 10-day workshop in which they had the opportunity to discuss and explore the theme of gender equality through their work by analyzing it from an artistic point of view.
The project was led by three mentors — Scarlett Coten from France, Susanne Kriemann from Germany and Tasneem Al-Sultan from Saudi Arabia.
The German, French and Saudi artists have had very different journeys in the world of photography.
Kriemann, a professor at Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design, said that photography is a “recording system” — a privileged means to study the human species.
Saudi American Al-Sultan is an award-winning photographer. She uses images to capture the spirit of the Middle East and its people, as well as recent changes that have transformed the region.
Coten explores the themes of gender, identity and intimacy mainly through the form of portraits.
The varied backgrounds of the three photographers added richness to the innovative workshop. The session aimed to mobilize artists and the public on a subject still new to Saudi Arabia, and promote the art of documentary photography.
Students’ photographs were exhibited in December 2022 at the Ahlam Gallery in the Al-Moussa Mall in Riyadh.