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From Publishers Weekly
Produced from the Noorderlicht Photofestival's Nazar show (Netherlands, 2004) and released in conjunction with Nazar's re-exhibition in New York this September, this volume of 300 photographs aims to show the realities that lie "behind the newspaper headlines" about the Arab world. Of course, no compendium could ever fully represent the region's 22 countries and myriad cultures, but this well-selected volume remains illuminating nonetheless. Particularly strong is the first section, "Arab Eyes," which displays the work of 25 Arab photographers, many of whom use fine art photo techniques, like collage, to drive home sophisticated conceptual points. Youssef Nabil of Egypt, for example, refracts queer couplings through commercial visual tropes to produce images that are complex and challenging. And Hicham Benohoud of Morocco mines the sometimes alluring, sometimes frightening otherness of childhood by staging surrealist photographs of children in schoolrooms. In contrast, the book's final section, "Western Eyes," seems rather prosaic since many of its 25 Western contributors serve up now-familiar images of war, poverty and veils in a straightforward documentary manner. The book also presents several lean but engaging essays. Among the most interesting is Michket Krifa's argument that Western curators have long avoided the study and circulation of the Arab region's rich work by hiding behind the false idea that, due to various political repressions, Arab photographers produce little contemporary art. (Sept.)
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