Deborah Willis and Sama Alshaibi
Center for Creative Photography
EMBODYING SELF AS SUBJECT
The question of the photographed subject presents a central ethical and political challenge today that is invariably bound up with centuries of image production, with the lenses through which we have constructed our selves and another’s self. Dr. Deborah Willis and Prof. Sama Alshaibi will take an immersive look into the visual and identity politics of portraiture and self-portraiture, into imagining the body as a setting in which political and personal narratives intersect and unfold.
Together they will inquire into the registers of photography and the human experience—of gender, race, religion, politics and art. What does it mean to excavate image histories that simultaneously revise the sense of ourselves today? How, and to what extent, can we be attentive to what stories live in the body? In what ways are we able to tackle such urgent issues as migrations, borders, and power through photography? Theirs is work not only vital to the civil discourses of our moment, but also of deep significance as we look to yesterday’s discourses and forward to tomorrow’s.
This event at the Center for Creative Photography is part of the October Arizona Arts Signature Series. It is presented with the generous support from the College of Fine Arts Diversity and Inclusion Committee Grant, the Arizona Arts’ Racial Justice Studio, John and Sandi Flint, and the University of Arizona School of Art and VASE Lecture Series.
About Dr. Deborah Willis
Willis is a professor and chair of the Department of Photography & Imaging at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. She is the recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship and a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. She is the author of The Black Civil War Soldier: A Visual History of Conflict and Citizenship and Posing Beauty: African American Images from the 1890s to the Present, among others.
Professor Willis’s curated exhibitions include: “Framing Moments in the KIA,” “Migrations and Meanings in Art”, “Let Your Motto Be Resistance: African American Portraits” at the International Center of Photography; Out of Fashion Photography; Framing Beauty at the Henry Art Gallery and “Reframing Beauty: Intimate Moments” at Indiana University.
About Sama Alshaibi
Alshaibi is a Regents Professor of Photography, Video, and Imaging at the University of Arizona School of Art. She works between photography, video, and installation. Her practice explores the notion of aftermath—the fragmentation and dispossession that violates the individual and a community following the destruction of their social, natural and built environment. Alshaibi often uses her own body as both subject and medium, a staging site for encounters, peripheries, and refuge, even when carrying the markings of war and dislocation.
In 2021, Alshaibi was named a Guggenheim Fellow in Photography and the recipient of the Phoenix Art Museum’s Arlene and Morton Scult Artist Award. Her work has been exhibited in numerous biennales and museums, including the 55th Venice Biennale, the 2020 State of the Art (Crystal Bridges Museum of Art, AK), the 13th Cairo International Biennale (Egypt), the Museum of Modern Art (New York), MARTA Herford Museum (Germany), Barjeel Foundation (U.A.E.), and Institut Du Monde Arabe (Paris), among others. In 2015, Aperture published her monograph Sama Alshaibi: Sand Rushes In, featuring the artist’s Silsila series.