martedì 23 dicembre 2014

"Scènes et Types"

Photographs during the colonial period can be divided into two main categories. "Private" photographs are those taken for private use - souvenirs, mementos, family portraits. "Public" photographs instead were marketed and sold to the consumers, who purchase them in form of picture postcards and that grew in popularity especially in the late 19th century with its growing interest in orientalism. The most favorite regions where African and Oriental countries, especially Maghreb countries Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt. These colonial postcards can be further divided into these following genres - buildings, streets, monuments, general views and "Scènes et Types"

"Scènes et Types" genre was a generic representation of certain kinds of people (Arab, Berbers, Bedouins,etc) practicing certain kinds of occupations (shoeshine, fabrics vendor, mendicants), participating certain kind of activities (making bread or couscous, serving tea or smoking hookah) and in many type depicted in certain kind of environments far from reality with the intent to create an exotic and erotic pictures for a "colonial voyeurism" public (such as unveiled women with ornate jewelry as a symbol of European colonial domination or in erotic/nude motifs) with the intent to emphasize the ethnic and exotic nature of these women. The models on the "Scènes et Types" postcards were usually categorized like "Type de Mauresque", "Type de Marocaine","Bedouine", "Femme Kabyle", "Femme du sud", "Femme arabe", "La danse", "La sieste", or sometimes having specific names like "Fathma", "Aisha" or "La Belle Zinâ"

Although the Oriental Postcards have acquired a quite negative reputation in the 20th century, a several books about Oriental postcards showing the beauty of photos taken by photographers like Rudolf Lehnert or Jean Geiser have been published in the last decades.

mercoledì 10 dicembre 2014

Abdullah Frères: Ottoman court photographers

The Armenian community played a principal role in the flourishing of various crafts and trades in the Ottoman Empire; this involvement continued even after the fall of the Ottomans. As a response to political persecution and genocide, Armenian crafts and trades spread to refugee areas in the Eastern Arabic regions of the Levant, Iraq, and Egypt, as well as to Iran and Middle Asia.

The spread of photography, at the forefront of those trades where Armenians played a leading role, was met with puritanical religious opposition. Because photographers were labeled ‘unbelievers’ by some religious puritans put off by the creation of human images, only specific groups of ‘Ottoman citizens’ – Armenians, Syrian Christians and other minorities – pursued the craft. From the last decade of the nineteenth century, these minority groups owned photographic studios in most cities in the Ottoman Empire and in Egypt.

The existence of so many Europeans in Istanbul, increasing numbers of European tourists to the East and especially Egypt, and the growing numbers of pilgrims to the Holy Land all created a demand for previously unheard-of services and crafts (like photography). Official tourists to Istanbul, for example, proceeded directly to ‘Abdullah Brothers photography studio to record their visit with a snapshot. Among the studio patrons were British Prince Albert Edward in 1869, Emperor Napoleon III and his wife Eugénie de Montijo, and the Emperor of Austria Franz Joseph.

The Ottoman Armenian brothers Vhichen (1820–1902), Hovsep (1830–1908) and Kevork Abdullah (1839–1918) operated a famed photographic studio in Istanbul from 1858 to 1900, when they sold the firm to Jean Sébah and Policarpe Joaillier. Known by their French name Abdullah frères (Abdullah brothers), they became official royal photographers to the Ottoman Sultan in 1863, and had the right to use the royal monogram. Between 1866 and 1895, they also had a branch studio in Cairo.

lunedì 1 dicembre 2014

Women image and embroidery in Palestine Posters Archive

In early August, the nomination of a major collection of posters from the Palestine Poster Project Archives was accepted for formal review by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization’s Memory of the World program. Palestine posters created by artists at the time of the first Intifada such as Ismail Shammout, Kamal Boullata, Sliman Mansour, Abdel Rahman Al Muzain, Burhan Karkoutly and  etc, provide a unique lens through which today’s audiences can gain insight into the attitudes and aspirations of people directly involved in the resistance as it emerged.

Women struggle and resistance throughout the years influenced a lot Palestinian artists and was apparent in many Palestinian posters. The main woman symbol taken for resistance was embroidery "Tatreez".

Tatreez (Palestinian embroidery) is a hidden form of resistance to Israeli attempts at economic, social and political subjugation. Women’s embroidery is one of few means of economic independence, neither dependent on Israeli contractors or its market. Embroidery is also a powerful means of expressing identity and making a connection with the Palestinian past prior to expulsion.

Thus this expression resistance it couldn't have been missed in the poster tradition is an exceptional element of Palestinian cultural heritage, and the posters themselves are important repositories of primary data. The  Women image in Palestine Poster Project Archives contain 278 posters in its “Palestinian women's traditional garments/embroidery/tatreez” Special Collection . Below is a selection of twelve posters from around the first year of the Intifada that provide a representative history of women struggle in traditional garments.

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