Maha Alasaker

Maha Alasaker is a Kuwaiti photographer based out of New York. I came across her work on the LensCulture site while researching photographers for the self-portraiture assignment.

Her artist’s statement to her oevre Belonging struck a chord with me as some of the aspects of her body of work resonate quite well with aspects of immigration, which is what I’m hoping to work with in my assignment.

Her work is ambiguous, layered and mysterious, reflecting the need to hide her true self in order to comply with society’s expected social codes.

Reference List

Alasaker, Maha. Belonging [online]. LensCulture. Available from: https://www.lensculture.com/explore/editors-pick?modal=true&modal_type=project&modal_project_id=158108 [Accessed 20 November, 2015]


Re-Write after Tutor Feedback in Assignment Three

Maha Alasaker is a Kuwaiti photographer based out of New York. I came across her work on the LensCulture site while researching photographers for the self-portraiture assignment.

Her artist’s statement to her oevre Belonging struck a chord with me as some of the aspects of her body of work resonate quite well with aspects of immigration, which is what I’m hoping to work with in my assignment.

The statement reads as follows:

As a woman born and raised in the Middle East, I had to learn untold dynamics and adapt to them by hiding aspects of my true self to fit in. This work addresses feelings of restriction, constraint and the universal theme of oppression brought on by cultural and societal codes.

(Maha Alasaker, LensCulture)

From personal experience as an immigrant and in talking to other fellow immigrants, I have found that to a certain degree one has to adjust one’s character a bit, or a lot in order to fit in with your new countrymen. One’s sense of humour may be restricted because colleagues only understand slapstick humour and not satire or irony. The jokes one told back home might be construed as being politically incorrect. One might have to think before speaking in order to make sure that you will be understood because different terminology is used. It is only when one is at home that you can truly relax and be yourself.

Belonging by Maha Alasaker (copyright)
Belonging by Maha Alasaker (copyright)

Alasaker’s work is ambiguous, layered and mysterious, reflecting the need to hide her true self in order to comply with society’s expected social codes. The multiple layers in her images serve to convey her feeling of restriction within society. There is one image (No 2 in the series – see above) where she is outside looking in through a mullion window and the resulting reflection in the glass seems to trap her into a tight corner. Her face is hidden by a large bamboo plant and other vegetation, stripping her of her identity making a clear statement of restriction and subjugation.

Her work is very thought provoking, causing one to look deeply into the images. Are we looking at her, or for her? Who or where is the true person?

Reference List

Alasaker, Maha. Belonging [online]. LensCulture. Available from: https://www.lensculture.com/explore/editors-pick?modal=true&modal_type=project&modal_project_id=158108 [Accessed 20 November, 2015]

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