European Prospects
Exploring European Identity through Photography

Wasma Mansour

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Wasma Mansour

Wasma Mansour

Biography

Wasma Mansour (b. 1980) is a Saudi photographer based between Saudi Arabia and the UK whose practice also incorporates text and and an oral history element. She has been working on a long term project exploring the articulations, constructions and representations of single Saudi women residing in the UK.

She was nominated for Paul Huf Award in 2013 and long-listed for Terry O'Neil award in 2012.

Portfolio Single Saudi Women - Portraits

Since 2008, my photography explored the spatial and material constructions of Saudi women who do not fit the stereotype: women who have chosen to live alone despite their belonging to a culture where male presence, shaping lives and spaces, is the norm. The first portfolio is a series of the women's portraits that were taken within their private spaces. The photographs were a result of a collaboration between myself and the participants.

Portfolio Single Saudi Women - Still Life

These images explore the other aspects of Saudi women's lives that relate to the participants’ dwellings and things. I was inspired by the women’s accounts of their lives in the United Kingdom and therefore the photographs respond to stories and anecdotes connected to the objects depicted. I was also interested in surveying how much of the women’s previous gender-related Saudi identities would surface in their private spaces, and to what degree are the women willing to transgress these identities.

Portfolio a package, of a package, of a package

Within a Middle Eastern context, a commodity such as a veil has been very powerful, becoming transfixed as a symbol synonymous with oppression, backwardness, weakness etc. In reality, however, it might be a personal choice (e.g. Egypt), a religious duty (e.g. Iran), a socio-religious obligation (e.g. Saudi Arabia), or a sign of resistance (e.g. Algeria). Common visual tropes inextricably link the veil to the Saudi woman. And yet for the women I worked with, the veil is something they own but do not use. For this series titled a package of a package of a package, I took the decision to photograph the veils out of the context of the women's homes and in a studio setting. In displacing the garment, I aimed to free it from its socio-religious connotations and transform it to an object imbued with symbolism.

Publications

Publications: 

2014 Fieldstudy (upcoming), a publication produced by the Photography and the Archive Research Centre
2013, Photoquai, published by Musee du quai Branly

Exhibitions: 

Solo Exhibitions:
2014 Single Saudi Women, The Photography and the Archive Research Centre (PARC), London, UK
2012 Single Saudi Women, 28 Piazza di Pietra Fine Art Gallery, Rome, Italy
2012 Single Saudi Women, Hardy Tree Gallery as part of the London Festival of Photography, London, UK

Group Exhibitions
2014 A Different Mirror: An Exhibition On Body Image, London, UK
2013 4th Photoquai Biennial, Paris, France
2012 7th Chobi Mela Festival of Photography, Dakha, Bangladesh
2012 Research in Progress: Pushing Boundaries and Practices, London, UK

Additional information: 

Mansour has been interviewed about her work in numerous publications including Niccolo Fano for Global Archive Photography (GAP),  Jonathan Worth for #PhonarColin Pantall for his blog and Kaley Sweeney for WPO's The Magazine.

Her work has been featured in The British Journal of Photography Ones to Watch 2014 and The Art Newspaper.