Does this exhibit challenge or perpetuate stereotypes?

Picture 247An exhibit featuring the photography of 12 women from Iran and the Arab world will open this week at the prestigious Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts. Entitled “She Who Tells a Story,” the exhibit includes the work of Jananne Al-Ani, Boushra Almutawakel, Gohar Dashti, Rana El Nemr, Lalla Essaydi, Shadi Ghadirian, Tanya Habjouqa, Rula Halawani, Nermine Hammam, Rania Matar, Shirin Neshat, and Newsha Tavakolian. Though many of the women now live in the united States, they hail from Jordan, Yemen, Morocco, Iraq, Egypt, Lebanon and Iran, which, despite the description in the New York Times, is not part of the Arab world.

Rania Matar, from Lebanon appreciates the exhibit for not merely focusing on the violence and instability in Iran and the Arab world, “but the humanity behind it.” She says, “It’s refreshing to have this exhibit right now because I think all we’re seeing from the Middle East — it’s sadness, it’s death, it’s killing.”

The curator, Kristen Gresh, writes in the introduction to the exhibit:  “Though these photographers challenge stereotypes, the choice to unite them as a group has been seen by some, ironically, as confirming a stereotype.” So, what do you think? Does the exhibit confirm or challenge stereotypes? To answer that question, take a look at the photographs.

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Born and raised on the mean streets of New York City’s Upper West Side, Katie Halper is a comic, writer, blogger, satirist and filmmaker based in New York. Katie graduated from The Dalton School (where she teaches history) and Wesleyan University (where she learned that labels are for jars.) A director of Living Liberally and co-founder/performer in Laughing Liberally, Katie has performed at Town Hall, Symphony Space, The Culture Project, D.C. Comedy Festival, all five Netroots Nations, and The Nation Magazine Cruise, where she made Howard Dean laugh! and has appeared with Lizz Winstead, Markos Moulitsas, The Yes Men, Cynthia Nixon and Jim Hightower. Her writing and videos have appeared in The New York Times, Comedy Central, The Nation Magazine, Gawker, Nerve, Jezebel, the Huffington Post, Alternet and Katie has been featured in/on NY Magazine, LA Times, In These Times, Gawker,Jezebel, MSNBC, Air America, GritTV, the Alan Colmes Show, Sirius radio (which hung up on her once) and the National Review, which called Katie “cute and some what brainy.” Katie co-produced Tim Robbins’s film Embedded, (Venice Film Festival, Sundance Channel); Estela Bravo’s Free to Fly (Havana Film Festival, LA Latino Film Festival); was outreach director for The Take, Naomi Klein/Avi Lewis documentary about Argentine workers (Toronto & Venice Film Festivals, Film Forum); co-directed New Yorkers Remember the Spanish Civil War, a video for Museum of the City of NY exhibit, and wrote/directed viral satiric videos including Jews/ Women/ Gays for McCain.

Katie is a writer, comedian, filmmaker, and New Yorker.

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