Light from the Middle East

13 Nov 2012 - 7 Apr 2013

Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK

Magnetism III 2012 Ahmed Mater Diasec mounted Lightjet print on Kodak Premier paper 180 x 240 cm

Magnetism featured in a group exhibition of photography from the Middle East. The exhibition explored the investigation of photography's language and techniques, using the camera to record or bear witness, or subverting the process to reveal how surprisingly unreliable a photograph can be. The works range from documentary photographs and highly staged tableaux to images manipulated beyond recognition – a variety of approaches appropriate to the complexities of a vast and diverse region. Light from the Middle East was divided into three sections, Recording, Reframing and Resisting, each of which focuses on a different approach to the medium of photography.

Magnetism featured in the Recording section of the exhibition. Photography is a seemingly accurate means of recording people, places and events. A photograph can serve a commemorative purpose or document a historic moment. It can reveal something not otherwise visible, such as a place or event the viewer would not have access to, or a particular vantage point available only to the photographer. It can also create a lasting image of a fleeting performance, or of a scene staged only for the camera.

But how reliable is a photograph? Despite the apparent authority of photographic images, they can trick or disorient. They can be ambiguous and difficult to decipher. Their meaning can shift according to context, cropping or captioning. What are the limitations of photography?

The photographers in this section use a range of approaches to exploit and explore the camera’s capacity to record.

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