I Know Why The Rebel Sings – SIFA: The O.P.E.N. 2016

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Today marks the start of the O.P.E.N., the pre-festival to the Singapore International Festival of the Arts. Artists and media were gathered at 72-13, home of Theatreworks, where festival director Ong Keng Sen made an opening speech explaining SIFA’s theme of Potentialities and the O.P.E.N. about being ‘Open to the Individual In You’.

Newsha Tavakolian does just that, in an extensive solo exhibition that spans both floors of 72-13. The Iranian artist’s photos evoke a sense of quiet strength and determination, staunchly opposed to the forces that root them to their circumstances. Tavakolian explores both the public and private space over the seven sets of photographs present in the exhibition.

in Blank Pages of an Iranian Photo Album, she captures the stark beauty in Tehran, utilizing a mobile landscape in contrast with motionless subjects, reproducing found photographs in childhood friends’ albums and each subject possessing a fierce determination and hypnotic stare into viewers’ eyes. In other series, she travels to countries such as Ghana to document the way people live, particularly children, or Kenya, in her series Freefalling in Samburu, where she creates a photo essay on a lightbox, depicting the fight against the horrors of female genitalia mutilation.

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Tavakolian’s photography is powerful and haunting, the images staying with you long after leaving the venue. It’s easy to see why hers was chosen as one of the headline pieces for the O.P.E.N., and this year seems like it will push the envelope more than ever before. We’re very excited for this year’s O.P.E.N., and will bring you more coverage as it progresses.

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I Know Why The Rebel Sings is on till 9 July at 72-13 (closed on Mondays)

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