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Power! Photos! Freedom!
Poster of Bachar al-Assad, Damascus, 2007 © Nicolas Righetti

Power! Photos! Freedom!

Marco Bohr » Florian Göttke » Nermine Hammam » Mosireen » Nicolas Righetti » Hrair Sarkissian » Issa Touma » Uprising of Women in the Arab World » Joachim Ben Yakoub » & others

Exhibition: – 9 Jun 2013

FoMu Photo Museum Antwerp

Waalsekaai 47
2000 Antwerp

FOMU Fotomuseum Antwerp

Waalsekaai 47
2000 Antwerp

+32(0)3-2429300


www.fotomuseum.be

Tue-Sun 10-18

Power! Photos! Freedom!
Leonid Brezjnev and Muammar al-Gaddafi, Moscow, 1981
© Courtesy Michael Christopher Brown/Human Rights Watch

Power! Photos! Freedom!

Exhibition: 15.02.13 – 09.06.13

While photography is a medium that can play games of hide and seek and manipulation, it also mobilises people. It is used to tell a story that can only be told in images, inside and outside of the political arena. Power! Photos! Freedom! goes in search of the power of the image in a rapidly changing Arab world. Photography has the power to make or break regimes. Whilst the ubiquitous image of the dictator may create a personality cult around leaders in authoritarian regimes, photography can also serve as a primary catalyst for revolutions and uprisings. An anonymous graffiti artist in the streets of Cairo captures it well: a gun on the left (“their weapons”), a camera on the right (“our weapons”).

A cheering crowd in a Libyan sports stadium, gazing hopefully in the direction of their leader. Thus began the dubious political career of Muammar Gaddafi (LY, 1942-2011), in 1969, a career which would end 42 years later in blood and gore. The Gaddafi Archive contains thousands of photographs that reconstruct his entire career. Peter Bouckaert, Human Rights Watch's emergencies director, and his team took this archive into custody on behalf of the Libyan people. Curator Susan Glen has made a selection and provided the historical context.

Power! Photos! Freedom!
President Nasser of Egypt and Muammar al-Gaddafi, Lybia, Benghazi, December 1969 © Courtesy Michael Christopher Brown/Human Rights Watch

Alongside these archives, Power! Photos! Freedom! presents a dozen photographic projects on Tunisia, Egypt, Syria and Libya. We see a region that has undergone tumultuous change in the past decade through the eyes of both insiders and outsiders. It would seem that photography is never innocent. What was the actual situation? Who was photographed? Why was this particular picture chosen? And in what context was the photograph distributed? The road paved by a single image is one of constant validation and reversal of meaning.

Arab Spring or Arab Winter, all seasons have been used to name the uprisings. But winter or spring, freedom is the clarion call that is echoing around the halls of politics, around your own living room and, of course, within the frame of a photograph.

Power! Photos! Freedom!
Lybia, Benghazi, 1977
© Courtesy of Peter Bouckaert/Human Rights Watch
Power! Photos! Freedom!
Guillotine Imaginaire, video still, 2013 © Joachim Ben Yakoub