In reality, there is no such thing as beauty in drawing or colour. Beauty lies solely in the revelation of truth. Auguste RODIN (1840 – 1917), Art; Conversations with Paul GSEL, Paris, 1911
Nefud unveiled is an exhibition of thirteen photographs by Danièle Chikhani realized in 2008 in the Saudi Nefoud desert. The Aja Association for the Women of Ha’il, whose mission is to stimulate young, single women to join the Saudi workforce, by offering them one-off courses; Aja invited Danièle Chikhani to introduce photography to them through a 20 days course. The lessons took place in Ha’il school and the practical exercises in the desert, some fifteen kilometres from the city.
The photographs. In the course of twenty days, Danièle Chikhani taught sixteen young girls, all wearing the full niqab, to observe through the lens of a camera, and to feel, through their veil, the nature and light around them, scrutinizing any small trace of life in this empty landscape. These daily excursions to the barren desert turned into discovery of the sky, rocks, sand, wind, sprouting grass, beetles, shadows. All manifestation of life would reveal itself through these photography apprentices, and with them emotions will unfold. For Danièle Chikhani, who captured these moments, her relationship with the girls also became a revelation of culture, place, but also of the young girls, covered by their black veil, yet in love with life.
Hend Al Fahaad, one of the course participants, has since become a film maker. Awarded in December 2015, the Muhr-Gulf Shorts Jury Prize at the Dubai International Film Festival for her short film Peddlers, the young woman turned into a revelation in the Arab film world. Galerie Alice Mogabgab is pleased to present a preview showing of her documentary, together with the thirteen photographs by Danièle Chikhani.
Danièle Chikhani was born in Lebanon in 1955. After her Masters degree in architecture at the Académie Libanaise des Beaux-arts, and her initiation to photography, she moved to Paris and worked as an architect/urbanist. In 2006, Danièle Chikhani returned to Lebanon.
The photographer has always accompanied the architect in her work, as well as on her many journeys. With her cameras, she has criss-crossed Peru, Uzbekistan, Mauritania, India, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, Oman and, lately, the high Tibetan Plateau. From these journeys she brought back images of streets, walls, stairs, ordinary places of everyday life. Be it landscapes, portraits or still lifes, Danièle Chikhani scrutinizes the light and gives structure to the composition. The architect in her continually explores man’s integration with his environment, the photographer attempts to capture the light and its movement across the sand dunes, through the black veil of the niqab, or in the wearer’s gaze.
About the film “Peddlers”
Hind Al Fahhad is a Saudi filmmaker and photographer with a keen interest in the visual arts.
In a traditional souk, women strive to find a spot for themselves to earn a living, in spite of the numerous daily challenges they face.
Director : Hind Al Fahhad
Producer : Abdullah Hasan Ahmed
Scriptwriter : Hind Al Fahhad, Hanna Al Omair