WOMEN’S RIGHTS: AN ANAL­Y­SIS IN PHO­TOS

In 2016, Shar­ifa Karimi (now 27 years of age), ex­hib­ited her se­ries, Hasti? Are you there? Has­tam. I am here, as part of the Auck­land Fes­ti­val of Photography. We caught up with Shar­ifa to talk about this ex­hi­bi­tion, and where she is tak­ing her photography

New Zealand D-Photo - - CONTENTS -

We caught up with Shar­ifa Karimi to talk about her 2016 Hasti? Are you there? Has­tam. I am here ex­hi­bi­tion, and where she is tak­ing her photography now

D-Photo: What ini­tially sparked your in­ter­est in photography?

Shar­ifa Karimi: With photography, I felt like there was no limit to my ex­pres­sion. There is more flex­i­bil­ity with this medium com­pared to oth­ers. At the same time, I don’t re­ally con­sider my­self as just a pho­tog­ra­pher, be­cause I put so many hours into stag­ing my pho­to­graphs. Only when I am sat­is­fied with the depth, tex­ture, com­po­si­tion, etc, will I take the photo.

Are you self-taught, or did you do a course?

I did my Bach­e­lors of Vis­ual Arts and De­sign, ma­jor­ing in Photography at Unitec.

Can you tell us a bit about your 2016 Auck­land Fes­ti­val of Photography ex­hi­bi­tion?

[In 2016] Lake House Arts [in Taka­puna] had an open­ing for a grad­u­ate ex­hi­bi­tion. Af­ter send­ing them my CV and port­fo­lio, I got asked if I was in­ter­ested in be­ing part of the fes­ti­val, and did a solo show.

Where did the con­cept come from, and how did the cre­ation process flow?

Three pieces of my art were from the endof-year grad­u­a­tion show from the univer­sity (Obe­di­ence). In a way, I felt that project needed to con­tinue — it felt un­fin­ished. Hav­ing the op­por­tu­nity to do the solo show was a great op­por­tu­nity for me to con­tinue cre­at­ing more work re­lated to the same topic (fe­male rights).

How would you de­scribe the style of photography in this ex­hi­bi­tion? Do you have a spe­cific genre that you like to work in, or are you open to ev­ery­thing?

My work is based on de­bate, anal­y­sis, and dis­cus­sion around women’s rights. The cur­rent cir­cum­stances of women who are strug­gling for their ba­sic rights are cre­ated by cul­tur­al­ism and tra­di­tion­al­ism. My work is fo­cused on man­i­fest­ing the core of this is­sue.

I con­sider my process as both an­a­lyt­i­cal and in­tu­itive. An­a­lyt­i­cal, be­cause I cri­tique my work based on data and in­for­ma­tion, and an­a­lyse the women’s rights is­sue in Asian coun­tries. At the same time, it’s in­tu­itive, be­cause dur­ing the process of my re­search, I have de­ter­mined the main theme of my prac­tice and the di­rec­tion that I want to ex­plore. At any stage of my work, I would go back to the main theme of my work and make sure that I am not de­vi­at­ing from that fo­cus. My ul­ti­mate aim was to ex­plore gen­der equal­ity be­tween the roles of men and women in sev­eral coun­tries. Most im­por­tantly, my ob­jec­tive was to high­light the ex­tent and in­ten­sity of cru­elty most of th­ese women go through on a daily ba­sis. It makes me ex­tremely sad that th­ese women live their whole lives as vic­tims, and the cy­cle con­tin­ues with the next gen­er­a­tion. At the same time, this re­search has in­creased my knowl­edge and aware­ness to­wards do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, and has made me more com­pas­sion­ate to­wards such an im­por­tant global is­sue.

Where do you see your photography tak­ing you — ca­reer op­por­tu­ni­ties, travel, etc?

I don’t view photography sim­ply as a ‘ca­reer’ — I hope to bring a voice to those who can­not speak for them­selves, and in do­ing so, cre­ate aware­ness.

What projects do you have on the go at the mo­ment. What have you got in mind that you haven’t started yet?

My works, in many ways, are very per­sonal, and have a great deal of sen­ti­ment. I have a lot in mind, but I don’t com­mit my­self un­til I feel ready with an idea.

Can you tell us a bit about where you gen­er­ate your ideas for projects?

What cre­ates the spirit of my work is a topic or an is­sue that has con­tin­u­ously lit a fire within me. It is an is­sue that has not re­ceived a great deal of at­ten­tion from the world, and it is the sub­ject of women’s rights in Asian and Mid­dle Eastern coun­tries. [Dur­ing] the past three years of study­ing at Unitec, I have been work­ing around the topic of gen­der equal­ity and fe­male rights in Asian coun­tries. The fo­cus of this project has been op­pres­sion of women and cultural be­lief of peo­ple when it comes to what the main role of a woman re­ally is in a so­ci­ety. The the­o­ret­i­cal con­text which I con­sider sig­nif­i­cant in my work is the per­cep­tion or men­tal­ity of a so­ci­ety regarding the phys­i­cal or in­tel­lec­tual abil­ity of women in that so­ci­ety. I have been work­ing with fab­ric, wrap­ping up my model in it to sym­bol­ize the iden­tity of a woman in re­la­tion to the veil and its com­plex­ity. I do not wish to stereo­type, or cre­ate an over-sim­pli­fied idea about the veil. How­ever, I would like my pho­to­graphs to put em­pha­sis on the fab­ri­cated cul­ture and the cor­rup­tion it can cause in the treatment of women in that en­vi­ron­ment. My work phys­i­cally sym­bol­izes a woman’s iden­tity in re­la­tion to her cul­ture. Dis­torted by fab­rics, the fig­ures in the pho­to­graphs por­tray a sense of im­pris­on­ment, a sense of op­pres­sion. My pho­to­graphs are in­spired by my own up­bring­ing as a fe­male child in Afghanistan: my po­si­tion led me to ques­tion, to doubt, and to chal­lenge the po­si­tion of women in the Mid­dle East.

What gear are you mak­ing use of the most at the mo­ment?

I use a Canon 7D MKII, an 85mm prime lens, a 50mm prime lens, and an 18–135mm zoom lens.

Any gear on your to-buy list?

A Canon 1D, and more lenses. Al­though Shar­ifa won’t par­tic­i­pate in the fes­ti­val this year, we are look­ing for­ward to see­ing where her photography jour­ney takes her in the fu­ture.

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