Magnum Photos Event
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by Olivia Arthur


May 28 - Jul 19 2014


Aberystwyth Arts Centre

Aberystwyth University Aberystwyth

Ceredigion, SY23 3DE

Jeddah Diary is an exploration into the complicated and contradictory world of Saudi Arabian women as they balance between modernity and tradition.

Through a selection of photographs and anecdotes, Jeddah Diary opens up the strange and paradoxical world that Saudi girls inhabit. Hidden behind high walls, shrouded in the ubiquitous abaya, Olivia finds a world inside the bubble that is not as conservative as it might seem. But social interaction is complicated, behaviour is carefully matched to place and circumstance, identities need to be protected and cameras are almost always unwelcome. With glimpses into a world that is normally tightly sealed from the eyes of outsiders, Jeddah Diary is a reflection on the nature of privacy and the delicate line between what you are allowed and not allowed to see.

Originally invited to Jeddah to teach a workshop for local women photographers, she soon struck up friendships and returned to the country several times to photograph.

‘I tried to piece together an understanding of the bubble-world that they live in and the strict rules they abide by. But the more I saw the less I seemed to understand, as rules changed from one situation to another and things began to seem contradictory.’

‘Sometimes I took pictures of the girls and was later asked not to show their identity. I made little prints and rephotographed them letting the flash reflect and partially obscure their faces. "That's great" they said "but couldn't you show a bit more of her eyes so that people can see how beautiful she is?'

Part of The Eye International Photography Festival 27-29 June.

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