Between 1859 and 1905, a number of photographers working in Damascus, Mecca, Cairo, Istanbul, and northern Africa captured their landscapes, towns, and monuments, bequeathing an unprecedented visual documentation of the Middle East. Gardens of Sand brings together 100 original photographs, masterpieces mostly hitherto unpublished, taken between 1859 and 1905. The archive illustrates the themes of the expatriate photographers of the second half of the nineteenth century—study portraits, royal commissions, landscapes, inventories of significant monuments and buildings, orientalist scenes, steeped in classical European imagination—but also explores the confrontation between western imagination and the visual reality of the Middle East, a meeting that gave rise to a local photography, gradually moving further away from western stereotypes, and includes a critical analysis of orientalism and of photography as a means of conveying a reality of prejudices.
Clark Worswick is a photo-historian, an enthusiastic collector, and a connoisseur of early Asian photography.
Dr. Issam Nassar is associate professor of history at Illinois State University and assistant professor in the Center of Area Studies at Al-Quds University in Jerusalem.
Patricia Almárcegui has a doctorate in philosophy (2005) from the University of Zaragoza.
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