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Dania Akkad

August 20th, 2012

conversation 21 (or why we’ve been hunting for photographers on Twitter)

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Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Dania Akkad

August 20th, 2012

conversation 21 (or why we’ve been hunting for photographers on Twitter)

0 comments

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

If you are following the MEC on twitter, you may have noticed our recent interest in amateur photography in the Middle East and North Africa. You may have wondered what’s going on over there?

Our search for photographers is all part of conversation 21, an art festival, generously supported by LSE’s Annual Fund, that the MEC will hold over several weeks this November on the LSE campus. The festival will be focused on the art work of young people across the Middle East and North Africa and will include a film night, a concert and, yes, a photography exhibit.

Why conversation 21? We had many discussions about what to call the festival and came up with all kinds of names — some better than others — that didn’t quite make the cut. One, for example, was the Not The Arab Spring Festival. That didn’t sound right, so we axed it. 

But it did get across what inspired the festival in the first place: there’s been so much discussion over the past two years about The Arab Spring, it’s almost become a force of it’s own as a concept. The focus on this Arab Spring has often centred around top-down politics, dictatorial downfalls (err, oustings) and talking heads while the everyday experiences of local people, particularly young people regularly credited with fueling the uprisings, can be lost or diluted in a broader narrative of political change.

To try to break through conceptual monoliths (and yes, let’s admit it, have a little fun), we’re attempting to find young (20 and 30-something) photographers from 21 different cities across the Middle East. For each city, we are asking photographers to provide us with a snap shot of what life is like for people their age today. Once we have selected the photos, we’ll interview each photographer on Skype to talk about their photo and what it means to them. The idea is to use the photos and interviews — both of which will be on display — to open up a conversation between 20 and 30-somethings in these cities and those in London who come to see the exhibit from 19 November to 7 December at LSE’s Atrium Gallery in the Old Building.

And that is why it’s called conversation 21. So far, so good: we’ve been back and forth with photographers from Tehran to Tel Aviv, Istanbul to Rabat. We’ve been talking with a Omani photographer from Muscat who, it turns out, carried an Olympic torch and a Libyan from Tripoli who wrote a sweet post about his mother on his blog. We’ve seen shots of Ramadan in Amman and protests in Tahrir and a Kurdish wedding in Syria. And we are looking for more: if you are a young photographer — amateur or professional — in the Middle East or know young photographers who you think would like to participate, drop us a line: d.c.akkad@lse.ac.uk.

 

 

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Dania Akkad

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