Jowhara AlSaud

Jowhara AlSaud

Work from Out of Line.

“The latest body of work began as a comment on censorship in Saudi Arabia and it’s effects on visual communication. There are regions in Saudi Arabia where people still draw a line across throats in photographs (figuratively cutting the head off.) There are blurred out faces on billboard advertisements. Skirts are crudely lengthened and sleeves added to women’s outfits in magazines with black markers. Figurative work is still considered by many to be sinful. As with everything else here, there’s a lack of consistency, and things change from region to region, but overall images are highly scrutinized and controlled.

In an attempt to comment on this censorship, I tried to apply the language of the censors to my personal photographs. I began by making line drawings from the photographs to abstract them. I omitted faces, referencing the aforementioned adverts. And kept only the essentials. This preserved the anonymity of my subjects, which allowed me more freedom since it is still a taboo to have one’s portrait hanging in a gallery or someone else’s home. This is true of many Middle Eastern countries.

It became a game of How much can you tell with how little. When reduced to line drawings or sketches, the images achieved enough distance from the original photographs that neither subjects nor censors could find them objectionable. For me, they became autonomous, and I became interested in the minimal narratives they created.” – Jowhara AlSaud

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