January 22, 2022

The Fourthny

Art is beauty

‘I want it to be normal for women to take photos’

4 min read

Henna artwork

Somalia frequently conjures up photographs of violence and destruction but a photography exhibition in the capital, Mogadishu, sets out not only to obstacle that perception but also to recast who is defining those people illustrations or photos in the to start with area, as the BBC’s Mary Harper experiences.

Short presentational grey line

Brief presentational gray line

On a large white wall in a hotel compound hangs a sequence of quiet, intimate portraits by two female Somali photographers.

“It is critical that gals reclaim the public area,” 1 of the artists, Fardowsa Hussein, claims.

She suggests that when she is filming on the streets, adult males frequently shout at her, telling her she should really be indoors somewhat than embarrassing herself in community.

“I want it to grow to be completely normal for a lady like me to go out and about, filming and taking shots, with no dread of harassment or worse.”

Person holding their hand up to their face

By means of my sister’s eyes

The exhibition, identified as Even now Existence, is the brainchild of Sagal Ali, the director of the Somali Arts Basis (Saf), which she released in September 2020.

She states that images in Somalia is considered a man’s trade “primarily when it arrives to street pictures. Females are not predicted to be outside documenting working day-to-day existence, in a spot in which most folks are however occupied simply just surviving”.

“Creative imagination and culture have been decimated by more than 30 decades of conflict in Somalia,” she states. “The purpose of Saf is to revive it, to give folks room to breathe.”

She also wants to alter the way people are seen, and in this exhibition she hopes to problem the check out that gals can’t accomplish highly technological operates of art.

“I was attracted to the woman gaze and the thoughts the pics invoked in me. I will not think these images could have been taken by gentlemen,” suggests Ali.

Boy standing next to a camel


“I took this image close to the south-western town of Hudur,” claims Hussein.

“Herding camels is the most attractive point you can see. Younger boys are liable to using them into the bush for grazing. Two boys have to appear immediately after as lots of as 50 camels and are often gone for 6 to seven times with no h2o.

“Somalis say this is the hardest job one can do, but also the most gratifying as camels are so cherished in our lifestyle.”

Girls holding dolls

Women and doll

“I was in an vehicle-rickshaw in Mogadishu when I caught sight of these two ladies,” suggests one particular of the photographers, Hana Mire.

“It was thoroughly spur of the second. I leapt out of the auto and they experienced no concept I was using their image. Afterwards, I confirmed them the impression, which they beloved.”

Woman in the sea

A younger female enjoys a swim at Lido Seaside, Mogadishu

This photograph of a female in the sea is Hussein’s favorite graphic.

“There was a stunning stillness about her, despite the commotion all all over her,” she describes.

Hussein states the simple fact that she much too was wearing a hijab put the girl at ease, supplying her the possibility to seize this intimate instant.

Two women looking into the water


She also captured two females sharing a instant at the water’s edge playfully splashing their ft and hands.

Young man


“Awais cherished this picture,” claims Mire.

“He has this sort of a kind soul. He explained to me it can be the 1st photograph he has at any time had of himself. He faces all sorts of discrimination.”

Mire feels it is significant to display how diverse Somalia is.

“Also often individuals believe Somalis are just 1 tribe, that they all discuss the exact language. But this is not legitimate.”

Woman wearing orange jilbab

Woman in orange jilbab

This image was taken inside of one particular of the oldest mosques in Hamar Weyne, just one of the capital’s oldest districts, in the course of the Eid al-Fitr holiday.

“A female stood up though other individuals knelt and prayed, a enthusiast was blowing her orange robes so they seemed like a ship’s sail,” Mire claims.

Man in profile

Aspect portrait

Mire also took this photograph in Hamar Weyne, among its narrow winding streets and Arab-style architecture.

“This is a person of my favorite locations to just take photos in Mogadishu,” she says.

“I observed this male going for walks together and I liked what he was donning. I requested him if I could choose his picture and he claimed he would be delighted for me to do so.”

Boy looking over ruined buildings


This is Mire’s favourite picture.

“I was in the historic district of Shangani. Even nevertheless I could see the trauma of war in the structures, it reminded me of my mothers and fathers and their content memories of the once gorgeous, classy city.”

She clarifies how she was staying silent, reflecting on her parents’ encounters, when she saw a boy staring out to sea.

“I assumed it was me. He represented the boy or girl in me.”

Back of girl's head

Back again of girl’s head

The photographers sense that for much too extended, Westerners have dominated the narrative on Somalia, presenting it as the world’s most risky country, torn aside by war, disorder and famine.

They say they want to take handle of Somalia’s tale, to existing a fuller, fairer portrayal of everyday living in the place.

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