Why are mannequins white?
Mannequins of light skin
When photographing mannequins in the numerous textile and clothing shops of the small Omani town of Al Khod, I was curious to learn more and locate them in a specifically Middle Eastern context. In the evenings in Al Khod, women of all age-groups, coming from the town itself or other places in the interior or northern coastal parts of the region, drift from shop to shop, in couples or groups but seldom alone. And what do they see?
Mannequins, usually with strapless pieces of fabric draped around them, with the cucumber-cold poise and measurements that are the trademark of real-life models on the catwalk. They are white and notably Western-looking, their heads uncovered. Some wear wigs while others have hair painted on to their heads. Only a couple of the mannequins wear a hijab but none is draped in an abaya, unless in a store specifically selling abayas.
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In photos: a glimpse into daily life and culture in Egypt
Street photography that captures people’s daily lives is far from easy in Egypt. Years of state control, starting from the Nasser era and all the way through the political turmoil Egypt’s streets have bore witness to over the past few years have instilled in people a sense of fear and hostility towards a photographer and his camera.
Capturing a particular scene in the streets can be an intricate matter, but I’ve found that a smile can go a long way in relieving the tension between me and the people in my surroundings. It’s also easier to obey when I’m told not to take pictures, and it’s best to say that I am a student who is interested in photography as a hobby, rather than identifying myself as a photojournalist.
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Nakba Day attests to the power of our grandparents' stories
My maternal grandfather was born in 1929. Although Alzheimer’s disease eroded his memory during the later years of his life, he had a surprising knack for recalling his experiences growing up in Haifa under the British mandate of Palestine. He described the open plains he crossed with friends to swim at the beach; the diplomats and missionaries who traveled through Haifa’s German Colony; and the port and railway that linked Palestine to other Arab cities and the Mediterranean region. Although he couldn’t remember that he had repeated these stories countless times before, I never grew tired of hearing them; they breathed life into a world I could only read about in books and gaze at through black-and-white photographs.
Continue reading on +972
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