Mouna Karray's Exploration of Tunisia's Neglected PeopleTom Seymour
1854 – British Journal of Photography
25 April 2016
Taken across various landscapes of the Tunisian south, Mouna Karray’s works present a figure shrouded in a white sheet photographed against rural, desolate backdrops.
The series started during an artist residency at Dream City Biennial of Contemporary Art in Public Space, in Tunis, and was produced from 2012 to 2015. It is being shown in its entirety for the first time.
“I went back to the Tunisian southwest, its silent poverty, its mineral loneliness, its arid and forgotten soils whose foundations were rich with minerals, which have been confiscated and stripped from these oppressed – but not submissive – souls,” says Mouna Karray.
“I took the road that crosses these dusty lands, an area that is both lifeless and inhabited, where the captive figure moves. This body is moving within this universe as its matrix; it extracts itself with a gesture that breaks its confinement.”
“In its struggle, in its encounters, in its wanderings, this body is a figure of resistance, a figure pushing for freedom and the re-enchantment of a forgotten land.”
Considered one of the most disadvantaged regions in the country, the south of Tunisia has traditionally suffered from a lack of government investment, and remains comparatively deprived socio-economically.
Karray’s works represent a series of narratives exploring her encounters with both the people and landscape of a region that serves as home for the more neglected of the country’s population.
Karray’s restricted, anonymous subject “personifies the isolation and alienation experienced by the people in this region,” existing “in stark juxtaposition to the unique beauty and vast character of the surrounding landscape.”
Born in 1970 in Sfax, Tunisia, Karray studied art and culture in Tunis before moving to Tokyo to complete an MA specialising in photography at the Tokyo Institute of Polytechnics and Arts in 2002. She currently lives and works between Paris and Sfax.
Her work has been selected for Dak’Art 2016: The 12th Biennale of Contemporary African Art, Dakar, Senegal and also recently featured in The Divine Comedy: Heaven, Purgatory and Hell Revisited by Contemporary African Artists, curated by Simon Njami, Smithsonian Institute, Washington, DC, USA (2015) touring from SCAD Museum of Art, Georgia, USA (2014-15) and MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt, Germany (2014).
Karray’s work is included in private and public collections such as Sindika Dokolo, Ministry of Tunisian Culture and Nadour Private Collection.
Nobody Will Talk About Us is exhibited until 21 May 2016 at the Tyburn Gallery, London.