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
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.