In Saudi Arabia, images are censored in extreme ways; figures in magazines are drawn over or crossed out. In “Out of Line,” the photographer Jowhara Al-Saud presents a groundbreaking approach to her country’s limits on free expression. Her photographs obscure any personal markers; the faces of her subjects are erased. The images could easily be mistaken for drawings, and this ambiguity only adds to the frightening sense that the viewer isn’t being told everything.
Her process itself is similar to an exercise in censorship: she shoots on film, and she proceeds to scratch out the emulsion on the negatives. She then prints them in a color darkroom against random backdrops. Presenting photographs, works that we associate with authoritative truths and reality, in such a confusing way allows the artist to critique the way we view the medium. She begs the question, how objective are images really?
Her photographs read like personal snapshots, displaying couples embracing or a group of friends hanging out. She hopes the images tap into universal familiarities with social situations. They explore body language and tap into those things that we choose not to reveal to others. For Al-Saud, who now lives in LA and New York, the work isn’t just about her home country. She believes censorship and hidden motivations are global issues, and that images aren’t always to be trusted for “the whole truth.” And I’m inclined to agree. Let us know what you think in the comments!
Images via Flavorwire