Women in Photography 2018 Exhibition
Saudi Tales of Love | Tasneem Alsultan

Whilst Saudi Arabia is an international symbol of Islam, many Saudis would agree that there is a strong disconnect between the Qur’an and local traditions. I wanted to answer question that many shared: Do we need marriage to signify that we have love? Do you need a husband to have a significant life?

I started the project thinking I only had my personal story to share. I was married at the age of 17, and living separately from my husband as a single parent for the last six years of an unhappy 10 year marriage. Many family members commented on how foolish I was to ask for a divorce. Only later, I realised that there were many Saudi women who had similar experiences, beyond my expectations of a typical Saudi housewife.

With each story, I found more women sharing complex marriage theories and experiences. I followed the stories of widows, happily married, and divorced women. I explored the concept of love, photographing my young daughter and grandmother. Utilising imagery (with permission from those whose weddings I photographed) I interlaced the construction and expectation of marriage through often elaborate wedding ceremony imagery and rituals. A common realisation with every woman I photographed, was that they all managed to overcome the many hurdles that was put by society or/and state.

About Tasneem Alsultan
Tasneem is a freelance Investigative Writer/Photographer working in the Middle East for international media on hard news as well as long form features. She Covered the first women’s voting and elections in Saudi Arabia, which took place in different cities across the country, for National Geographic. Tasneem’s work has also been published in Saudi for New York Times, Speigel, Time’s Lightbox, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Washington Post, Amnesty International, NewYork Times Lens Blog, National Geographic Proof and Vogue Italia.

Tasneem was born in the US and educated in England, returning to Saudi for her undergraduate studies. Her masters focused on the ethnographic study of Saudi women abroad, receiving an MA from Portland State University. After years of teaching in universities between Saudi and the United States, she ventured into photography. She now uses her story telling experience to document topics focusing on human rights specific to gender and social issues in Saudi and the Arab Gulf region. Selected as one of the 10 grantees of the Magnum Foundation/ Prince Clause/ AFAC grant in 2015, she began working on her project Saudi Tales of Love which was published in Time’s Lightbox, and later exhibited in Paris Photo,  PhotoKathmandu, Photo Festival in Mumbai, Gulf Photo Plus Dubai, Fort Worth Contemporary Arts in Texas, Middle East now in Florence, Aperture in New York, La Quatrieme Image in Paris, Tiblisi Photo Festival in Georgia, and among the slideshow at the prestigious Visa Pour L’Image, Perpignan in 2016. In April 2016, Tasneem was selected by British Journal Photography among best 16 emerging photographers to watch, and PDN’s 30 photographers to watch in 2017. She is a finalist in the 2017 Sony World Photography Awards in Contemporary Issues. She soon joined Rawiya, the first all-female photography collective from the Middle East.

:: Exhibition: 5 Oct to 18 Nov 2018
:: Guided photographer & curator tour: 5 Oct, Fri, 6pm to 7pm
:: Artist talk I: 6 Oct, Sat, 2pm to 4pm
:: Artist talk II: 6 Oct, Sat, 4pm to 6pm
:: Slideshow Projection featuring Women Photograph: 8 Nov, Thu, 730pm to 9pm
:: Short Film Screening: 5 Oct to 28 Oct, 12pm to 7pm, Lower Gallery
:: Women in Film 2018 (10 to 13 Oct, 730pm)