At Large  March 4, 2022  Art & Object Staff

Sekka Magazine Explores Arab Womanhood in the Arts

Created: Fri, 03/04/2022 - 15:37
Author: jeremy
Courtesy of Fatima Dashty via Sekka Magazine

Fatima Dashty’s photographs capture the traditional ways of life in Bahrain.

Art & Object has partnered with Sekka Magazine to share their amazing art coverage. Founded in 2017 by Manar and Sharifah Alhinai, Sekka is an online arts and culture platform that highlights remarkable stories from around the Arab world. Sekka's mission is to reclaim "the narrative about the Arab World and specifically the Gulf Arab States, in international media, by providing [their] global audience with an authentic insight and guide to one of the most important and misunderstood regions in the world, narrated by the people who are from there." Sekka works with journalists across the Arab world, and ninety percent of the content creators in Sekka Magazine are Arab women. 

Each month, Art & Object is highlighting Sekka's best art stories. Our hope is that our readers come away from these stories more knowledgeable about this culturally rich part of the world but also are able to emotionally connect with art and artists that they might not otherwise have been exposed to. The latest issue of Sekka Magazine is dedicated to womanhood. Here are five stories from Sekka that explores Arab womanhood in the arts.

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Courtesy of Nagham Khader via Sekka Magazine
Nagham Khader's New Photography Series "Out of her Father's House"


Nagham Khader is a 23-year-old Jordanian photographer of Palestinian origin. She recently shared her latest photography series, Out of Her Father’s House, on Instagram. The series, the title of which is derived from a traditional Arabic wedding procession (zaffah) song, is composed of eight photographs that narrate the story of a woman as she goes through the stages of a traditional marriage, which usually begins when a suitor’s mother and female relatives makes a home visit to meet the prospective bride and her family, and, if a match is made, concludes with a wedding ceremony that jubilantly celebrates the marriage. Only in Nagham’s final photographs, the bride ends up being unhappy in her own wedding as she is surrounded by two women from the groom’s side who look at her with resentment and disappointment, seemingly unhappy with the choice of wife.

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Image by Shukri Lawrence via Sekka Magazine
Tima Shomali: It’s Time for Arab Women to Shine


Arab women in the filmmaking industry are leaving their mark on the world. They have won or been nominated for some of the most prestigious international awards. Like Twenty Impossibles (2003), by Palestinian filmmaker Anne Marie Jacir, was the first Arab short film to enter an official selection at the Cannes International Film Festival. In the past three years, Lebanese Nadine Labaki, Syrian Waad al-Kateab, British Palestinian Farah Nabulsi and Tunisians Kaouther Ben Hania and Meryam Joobeur all were nominated for Oscars. 

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Courtesy of Mous Lamrabat via Sekka Magazine
Mous Lamrabat and Waleed Shah talk Photographing Arab Women


Mous Lamrabat believes in pushing the narrative by ‘placing things where they don’t belong.’ Lamrabat’s signature style combines his North African and Moroccan heritage with Western or pop culture aesthetics. Some of his instantly recognisable work includes female silhouettes amid a monotonous, nondescript desert landscape, but they are wearing brightly coloured djellabas [a kaftan style worn in Morocco] with the Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls logos. The caption reads, ‘Mountain Goats,’ alluding to basketball icons Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan. ‘It’s just who I am,’ says the Belgium-based photographer. ‘I like putting things where they don’t belong, and this [contrast] makes things interesting.’

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Courtesy of Warehouse421 and Fatema Al Fardan via Sekka Magazine
Behind the Photography of Fatema Al Fardan


22-year-old Emirati Fatema Al Fardan didn’t always think she would grow up to be an artist. In fact, because she went to a science-oriented high school, she never thought she would study anything but engineering, despite the fact that she was obsessed with documenting people events on campus through photography for the school’s newsletter. Flash-forward five years later, after studying at New York University Abu Dhabi, where a photography class made her realize that photography can be more than a hobby and led her to double-major in visual arts and economics. Fatema Al Fardan is amongst the UAE’s newest and most promising multidisciplinary emerging artists, who showcased her work in the Middle East Institute’s Art Gallery’s 2020 online art exhibition Art in Isolation: Creativity in the Time of Covid-19, and is currently showcasing her photography series, We Dance Asynchronously on the Same Stage, at Abu Dhabi’s Warehouse 421 as part of the ongoing group exhibition, Mina Zayed:Reflections on Past Futures.

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Courtesy of Fatima Dashty via Sekka Magazine
Fatima Dashty: The Bahraini Photographer Keeping the Past Alive


Like other Arab Gulf States, Bahrain has undergone a rapid process of modernization over the last 100 years. But that has not stopped the new generations from embracing the past and celebrating it in their own creative ways. Fatima Dashty is one such millennial. Using her Canon R Mirrorless Camera, the 30-year-old self-taught photographer has been capturing and recreating scenes that depict the Kingdom’s traditional ways of life, as well as customary, religious and national celebrations like Gergaon, Eid and Bahraini National Day, for the last seven years.

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