Emotion, Expression, Explanation
Edited By András Benedek and Kristof Nyiri
Light from the Middle East: The Real versus Imagined in Contemporary Photography
From November 2012 until April 2013, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London housed a show of 94 photographs from 30 Middle Eastern photographers about the Middle East entitled Light from the Middle East.1 The exhibit was the first devoted solely to photography about that region. The exhibition is divided into three sections: recording, reframing, and resisting. Within these sections, the photographers reveal insight into not only the Middle East but also photography itself. Indeed, the exhibition challenges notions of reality by presenting an imagined Middle Eastern region and cultures. By imagining a potential world, the artists challenge existing norms and traditions within that culture. Hence, Light from the Middle East produces a rhetorical stance that invites viewers to imagine a Middle East as envisioned by the photographers.
In this paper, I will argue that Light from the Middle East questions the tension between the real and the imagined. In so doing, this exhibit exposes the potential for the rhetoric of possibility as a method for understanding the visual image and its potential for rhetorical impact. To undertake this study, I will first explore the philosophical notions of the real versus the imagined. Then suggest a rhetoric of possibility as a means for understanding the tension between the real and the imagined. I will then consider images from Light from the Middle East in terms of the rhetoric of the possible. Finally, I will draw conclusions from this analysis about rhetoric, the image, and...
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