11 March - 15 April 2006
They look mischievously into the lens through the narrow opening of their niqabs. Three students behind their desk, sitting close together so that each of them is clearly shown on the photograph. The photograph was taken by Martine Stig and is part of her latest series: 'Sisters'.
In Martine Stig’s photographs the medium of photography has central place. Stig works in series. Every series makes the viewer think about photography in a different way. They are photographs about how people use cameras and images, how clichéd images have penetrated our lives and influenced our ways of seeing.
For the 'Sisters' series Martine Stig travelled to Kuwait. She was curious about the role and effect of photographs in the veiled world.
There are a striking number of women studying at the University of Kuwait. Many of them wear a veil. It is a conscious choice. What others may or may not see is carefully considered.
Photography is a precarious subject in the veiled world, but is not forbidden in Kuwait. The rough rule which applies for women is: the more they are veiled, the less they are prepared to be photographed.
Nevertheless, these veiled girls take many photographs with modern mobile phones with their inbuilt cameras. The difficult position of photography in Islamic society doesn’t change the need to own a picture of a loved one.
Even though the girls recognise each other immediately, making a portrait of someone who is veiled seems rather paradoxical.
'Sisters' consists of a series of traditional portraits. They were taken on the campus or at the girls’ homes. Despite the absence of a face, the images are intimate and meaningful. For the viewer, the people in the photographs are unrecognisable, but the recognisable way of depicting them tells us that they were taken to remember and cherish the figures in the portraits.
'Sisters' was made possible with the support of the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds.
© Martine Stig
c-print , 95 x 76 cm, 2005