‘She Who Tells a Story’ Highlights Contemporary Women Photographers from Iran and the Arab World

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The Arabic word “rawiya” translates to “she who tells a story,” which also happens to be the name of a new exhibit at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC, opening April 8 and running through July 31. She Who Tells a Story: Women Photographers from Iran and the Arab World presents more than 80 photographs, along with a video installation, by 12 contemporary women artists who challenge stereotypes about the region and shed light on the political and social issues faced by Arab communities.

Among the featured artists is internationally renowned filmmaker and photographer Shirin Neshat, whose earliest works questioned notions of femininity and veiling in the Arab world. She continues to confront indigenous and Western portrayals of Middle Eastern women. Photojournalist Newsha Tavakolian’s Listen series gives a voice to women singers who are not allowed to perform solo or produce their own music due to Islamic regulations in place since the 1979 revolution.

The landmark exhibition aims to open a cultural dialogue on a national level about the complexities of being a woman, and woman artist, in the Arab world.

Boushra AlmutawakelUntitled, from the series “The Hijab”2001Chromogenic print47 1/4 x 39 3/8 in.Courtesy of the artist and the Howard Greenberg Gallery

Shirin NeshatDivine Rebellion from the series “The Book of Kings”2012Acrylic on laser-exposed silver gelatin print62 x 49 in.Courtesy of the artist and Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels; © Shirin Neshat

Lalla EssaydiBullets Revisited #32012Triptych, chromogenic prints on aluminum150 x 66 in.Courtesy of the artist, Miller Yezerski Gallery, Boston, and Edwynn Houk Gallery, NYC

Newsha TavakolianMaral Afsharian, from the series “Listen”2010Pigment print23 5/8 x 31 1/2 in.Courtesy of the artist and East Wing Contemporary Gallery

Gohar DashtiUntitled #5, from the series “Today’s Life and War”2008Chromogenic print27 5/8 x 41 3/8 in.Courtesy of the artist, Azita Bina, and Robert Klein Gallery, Boston; © Gohar Dashti

Tanya HabjouqaUntitled, from the series “Women of Gaza”2009Pigment print20 x 30 in.Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Museum purchase with general funds and the Horace W. Goldsmith Fund for Photography, 2013.565; Photo © 2015 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Rania MatarReem, Doha, Lebanon, from the series “A Girl and Her Room”2010Pigment print36 x 50 in.Courtesy of the artist and Carroll and Sons, Boston; © Rania Matar

Shadi GhadirianUntitled, from the series “Qajar”1998Gelatin silver print15 3/4 x 11 7/8 in.Photo © 2015 Museum of Fine Arts, BostonMuseum of Fine Arts, Boston; Horace W. Goldsmith Fund for Photography and Abbott Lawrence Fund, 2013.571; © Shadi Ghadirian

Gohar DashtiUntitled #1, from the series “Today’s Life and War”2008Chromogenic print27 5/8 x 41 3/8 in.Courtesy of the artist, Azita Bina, and Robert Klein Gallery, Boston; © Gohar Dashti

Rana El NemrMetro (#7), from the series “The Metro”2003Pigment print39 3/8 x 39 3/8 in.Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Museum purchase with general funds and the Abbott Lawrence Fund, 2013.569; Photo © 2015 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston