By Karma Bou Saab
My photograph series of 4 images is called "Clasping".
In the first image, one can see 2 closed hands of a man and a woman, wearing a traditional abaya and kandura, held together. Due to the intensity of grip, the veins on their wrists show. If one looks closer, they're perfectly aligned. This is a metaphor of the solidarity and harmony between men and women as represented in Islam.
The second and third pictures show the 2 hands, still clutched, opening. One can see a glimpse of what's inside, what is written on both of their skin. What's in there seems to be beautiful, and it is indeed a production of both, equally.
The fourth picture displays the quote as is. A line written in black with a slightly red background on the man and the woman's palms. What is written is a quote of Mahmoud Darwish, a Muslim Palestinian poet. The verse, in Arabic says:
تَكفي يدُ امْرَأَةٍ في يَدِي كَي أعانِقَ حُرِّيتي
A translation of this verse in English could be: A woman's hand in mine is enough for me to embrace my freedom.
Said by a Muslim, Palestine man, this shows the importance of woman and their role in not only the religion of Islam, but in the minds of Muslims themselves. The way Mahmoud Darwish says that a woman's hands in his (showing equality and cohesion), can make him ( a Muslim man) embrace freedom. Proving that a woman is needed to attain even the most essential things in life, because what's more important than freedom itself?
So a woman's role in Islam and Islamic societies is so important, and is highly appreciated and cherished. Furthermore, real Islam longs for equality between men and women and this is shown in numbers of ways through the Islamic way of living.
In these 4 photographs, I used a black calligraphy pen to write this particular, Arabic quote on 2 (man and woman's) palms held together, photographed by a camera. The pictures were later collages and put together. The reason why my project is a series of images, particularly 4, is to show the flow of the objects aimed at: the convey the message behind what's photographed smoothly, and at ease.
I got inspired from Shirin Neshat, a Persian modern and contemporary artist who teaches out her audience using both the media of photography and calligraphy writing. Shirin's works are photographs of certain portraits or even hands. She then adds the element of calligraphy by writing on top of these photographs after they have been shot. While I, on the contrary, wrote on the skin itself in Arabic letters and then took a picture of the setting and the view. Moreover, Shirin uses this medium to address women's issues in the Middle East, especially in Iran. But I have used this way or medium to send a different message this time, a message of peace and a portrait of the significance of both genders in Muslim societies. And there was no other way I could've shown the beauty of such harmony, the beauty of Muslim women's roles in life without the beauty of Mahmoud Darwish's words.