Rania Matar and Sama Alshaibi’s talk features the two artists discussing common and diverging themes in their respective photographic practices. Drawing on the duality of their own identities, both hailing from the Middle East and now living in the United States, their photographs intimately engage the complexity of Arab women’s representations through images. Their work explores the lives and experiences of women, through various layers of identity, social and political codes.
Featured images: Gamer, Albumen print, 21 h x 14 w in, @Sama Alshaibi 2018 | Aya, Sursock Palace, Beirut Lebanon ©Rania Matar 2020
Bio – Sama Alshaibi
Sama Alshaibi’s (b. Iraq, 1973) photographs and videos situate her own body as a site of performance in consideration of the gendered and social impacts of war, migration and displacement. Recent participations include State of The Art 2020 at Crystal Bridges (Arkansas), the 2013th Cairo International Biennale (Egypt, 2019), solo exhibitions at Ayyam Gallery (Dubai, 2019) and the Artpace International Artist Residency (San Antonio, 2019). Alshaibi received the 2019 Project Development Award from the Center (Santa Fe) and the 2017 Visual Arts Grant from the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (Beirut).
Alshaibi’s monograph, Sama Alshaibi: Sand Rushes In (New York: Aperture, 2015) presents her Silsila series, which probes the human dimensions of migration, borders, and environmental demise. Silsila was exhibited at the 55th Venice Biennale (2013), American University Museum (Washington D.C., 2018), Honolulu Biennial (2017), Marta Herford Museum (Germany, 2017), and solo exhibitions at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art (NY, 2017) and SMoCA (Arizona, 2016)Her twenty-one solo exhibitions and over 150 group exhibitions include MoMA (NYC), Bronx Museum (NYC), Arab American National Museum (Michigan), Institut Du Monde Arabe (Paris), Busan Museum of Art (South Korea) and Barjeel Foundation (UAE). Alshaibi is Professor of Photography, Video and Imaging at University of Arizona, Tucson.
Bio – Rania Matar
Rania Matar was born and raised in Lebanon and moved to the U.S. in 1984. As a
Lebanese-born American artist and mother, her cross-cultural experience and
personal narrative inform her photography.
Matar’s work has been widely exhibited in museums worldwide, including the
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Carnegie Museum of Art, National Museum of Women
in the Arts, and more. It is part of the permanent collections of several museums,
institutions, and private collections worldwide. A mid-career retrospective of her
work was recently on view at the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Amon Carter
Museum of American Art, and the American University of Beirut Museum.
Matar received a 2018 Guggenheim Fellowship, 2017 Mellon Foundation artist-in-residency grant, 2011 Legacy Award at the Griffin Museum of Photography, 2011
and 2007 Massachusetts Cultural Council artist fellowships. In 2008 she was a
finalist for the Foster Award at the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, with an
accompanying solo exhibition.
She has published three books: L’Enfant-Femme, 2016; A Girl and Her Room, 2012;
Ordinary Lives, 2009. She is currently working on her fourth book SHE (2021) with
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