An Arab Muslim woman's exploration of being, femininity and societal expectations
Eternal Echoes is a unique exhibition of selected works by premier Egyptian artist Marwa Adel that traces and explores the constantly evolving realities of being an Arab Muslim woman. In a world of stereotypes and assumptions, it is essential to redress the balance, listening to each other, and gaining true insights into each other. The primary objective of Eternal Echoes is to change negative perceptions, alleviate fears and create lasting change in the quest for harmony, coexistence and peace.
Through the unique voice of Marwa Adel, Eternal Echoes challenges commonly held negative stereotypes of what it means to be a Middle Eastern woman in today’s world. Eternal Echoes seeks to change misconceptions of the "other" by looking through the lens of a Middle Eastern Muslim woman’s life experiences, and thereby stimulate discussion, facilitate dialogue, enhance understanding, bring about respect and even facilitate new friendships with Middle Eastern Muslims.
Although Adel’s work addresses her life and experience of modern Egyptian society, a Muslim majority context, it is an exploration of timeless and universal themes and concepts that we all face, struggle with and adapt to; finding a sense of self, wrestling with our place in society and ultimately defining our own purpose and how we meet the world with all its joys and challenges.
This carefully curated exhibition of 25 works is composed of two series, Eve and The Journey, with additional works that explore physicality, restriction and expression.
Marwa Adel was born in 1984 in Cairo, Egypt where she lives and works. Her photographic work speaks about the challenges she has faced in her life. They express her desire to break free from the restrictions imposed on women by society and to be the person that she is rather than what society forces her to be. Her work is deeply personal, but it tells a universal story.
Adel has a Master’s degree in advertising and a PhD. in communications, and is a lecturer at the Faculty of Applied Art at Helwan University, Cairo. Since the beginning of her career, Adel has defied traditional norms by using pictures of the human body in her work. And she has won many awards for her bold and powerful creations.
Adel's photography is a visual world of whispered prayers. She has blended a landscape of allusion into an inner journey that reveals women's struggle toward freedom. Few photographers are so intrepid as to share a journey filled with doubt, fear, hope and love.
The carefully posed photographs of models are combined with symbols of fragility such as leaves, flowers and torn paper. She adds digital textures, light effects and pieces of her calligraphic paintings to create beautiful and eloquent compositions. Her wedding dress and veil also appear in the pictures as a reminder of bitter sweet memories. Adel’s marriage was a turning point in her life, causing her to rediscover her ‘self’, her emotions and goals.
Adel often uses the bare human body as a metaphor for the thoughts and feelings hidden inside it. The anonymous women in the photographs appear fragile and lonely. Their eyes are covered, yet you can feel the sea of emotions surging within. Their bodies are exposed, yet they conceal their thoughts, desires and feelings. These women represent no one and everyone. They hide their identity and try to look like everyone else because they want to be accepted by society. But the tenseness in the bodies speaks to how painful it is to hide the truth.
These are deep, visual stories that afford the viewer the possibility of altering one's state of consciousness.