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' Lipstick and Gas Masks ': Women in times of resistance Mashid Mohadjerin

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' Lipstick and Gas Masks ': women in times of resistance


There are people who in difficult times (their country ruled by a dictator or in a civil war or in war with another country) leave or emigrate and there are those who stay and fight back. It is this last category that Mashid Mohadjerin photographer, belongs too. She, two years after the outbreak of the Arab spring, went looking for the female players. The result is a publication and an exhibition.

The interviewed: Mashid Mohadjerin, the interviewer Mabrouka W.. First time published in SAMIRA BABY. May 19, 2017.

Mashid Mohadjerin ©

"It's frustrating that while we are under pressure from the IMF, the only thing that journalists want to talk about women issues. Beautiful Arab women are usually selected to posts, and they are as experts put forward. They get it for each other to the headquarters of the UN to fly and make group photos. Meanwhile, the economic independence, the real problem in Tunisia, gets no attention.

That says Mabrouka W, a former member who took part in the drafting of the new Tunisian Constitution, in Lipstick & Gas Masks, a new publication by photographer Mashid Mohadjerin. Lipstick & Gas Masks is primarily a photo book.

Here no garish images of women in full action but rather images of heroines, in their daily life, supplemented by quotes from interviews, tweets and street scenes that the role of these activists makes clear. An artistic approach to the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia from the position of female activists.

The publication is part of a research project that started in 2013 and that the theme ' women and resistance in the Middle East '. But is that not a contradiction? Mashid Mohadjerin, does that in 2009 the World Press Photo Award in the category of contemporary themes won, just not what these activists thrown back at the Western media?

The photographer has her reasons for this. "I want to share with the world the vision of Mabrouka W and I understand from where the frustration comes, but I find that the one does not exclude the other, ' she says. ' My subject is moving and it is in line with where I am working on for years, the problem of refugees and migration '.

' Ideological seen, stay and fight is better. It gives you dignity '.

You say that resistance as a theme is migration, what is the relationship between the two?

Mashid Mohadjerin: In my trail I have focused on migration and on its consequences. This is a new phase for me in that I'm starting to look at the other side of the story, to those who stay behind. There are people fleeing, migrate, run away but there are people who remain, who are fighting. Who are they anyway?

That also has to do with me personally. As a teenager I was often angry with my parents because they had fled and not continue to fight. I think you lose a piece of your dignity by way to go. I've been looking for the variation, to the different voices. Because what you have here in the western media get to see are the pro-democratic, pro-western votes. But I have very few muslim sisters that the word has heard, for example. And also the distinction between the socialist youth and the liberal youth, I have not really seen. In addition, there is a lot of young people who have come and joined in the rebellion, without a clear vision. I have chosen people who actually were active and that in one way or another, a certain influence on national and sometimes also international level. Why the focus on political activists?

Mashid Mohadjerin: because they inspire me. I wanted to speak effectively for women who risked their lives and have made real sacrifices. People can say so much, but how many people sticking their neck out effectively if there is a real chance be shot? Not as much. But these women have it all done.


What has most affected you during the meetings with those women?

Mashid Mohadjerin: their strength, their determination and their intelligence. At the Muslim brothers, for example, I have two very interesting women interviewed. The granddaughter of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood and Sarah Yousf, the spokeswoman for the student movement of Al-Azhar University. This last to this day, risking her life just to go to College. I just find it very interesting to see how all those ideologies, all those different strong opinions be performed and a place. ' There is now an entire generation of very disappointed and defeated fighters '.

The photographs in the book are rather dark and depressed, why is that?

Mashid Mohadjerin: It are mainly photos taken after the coup by 2013. That was the moment when everyone in a depression. In 2011 the activists were so euphoric about the Arab spring. They had achieved something, made history. In an few years that all reversed. There is now a whole generation of very disappointed and defeated fighters. I found there is very little hope, except for a single girl: Gigi Ibrahim, an activist within the revolutionary Socialists. She has a little hope.

Some of the women you've interviewed have participated in the protest against the deposition of president Mohamed Morsi.

Mashid Mohadjerin: the conversation with activist Sarah Yousf (20) was for me one of the most heavy conversations I've had. She has the eighteen days of the revolution in 2011 against Mubarak experienced and actively participated, but the massacre that the army on the Rabaa square in August 2013, has already ravaged what beautiful things was to the revolution from her memory wiped off. Her fiance was during that protest shot. I think that both national and international media reported very lightly on the massacre at Rabaa. There was nowhere really extensively about reported while all military means were used against the demonstrators.

The women have spoken with you nd be photographed but actually they say also that they have nothing to such interviews.

Mashid Mohadjerin: Yes, they say: ' the media come to here. We are interviewed and we give our answers. But that doesn't change our situation ". That is something they have long care. And I thought it was important to show. I am at that moment also called that supposedly Western photographer/journalist. It is double: If you do not pay attention to a topic it disappears, but how much can you do as a journalist on the other hand, researcher or artist? ' I hope to be able to give a glimpse at most in a world that is often in the media but where we know so little details, and I want to show those details.

What do you hope to achieve with the book and the exhibition?

Mashid Mohadjerin: I wish I could say that I could achieve something great, but unfortunately I can not argue. I hope to be able to give a glimpse at most in a world that is often in the media but where we know so little details, and I want to show those details. On purely visual level I hope to bring culture closer to the people because images are mobilising. The rebellions in Tunisia due to see photos of what happened in a part of the country. If there is only about the events was written, it would not have had the same effect.

You have after this project also an exhibition at Bozar in Brussels?

Mashid Mohadjerin: Yes, that is a continuation of my project in Palestine. I was there to make a series about women in the everyday life to the West Bank. What fascinates me is that there are different forms of resistance. There are also lots of interesting women who are on their way with resistance.

The reason why Palestine is so important is that I in Egypt and Tunisia told time and again that their first experience with protest in connection with the Palestinian issue. That was their school because it was the only space that was within the dictatorships.

This is also a new phase in your trail?

Mashid Mohadjerin: indeed, this is for me the start of a new phase. I want to actually come off of the post-revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia and more with resistance in general. I want something more abstract and the symbolism which is discover and Visual around.


Lightly overworked and fully tranlated by chief editor

Gino d'Artali

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