Undergraduate Student Amira Nazer's work featured in 'VICE Arabia'

Audrey Deng
March 31, 2020

Last month, VICE Arabia featured the photographic works by current undergraduate student, Amira Nazer.

The title of the series is The Mermaids of Jeddah. In the accompanying VICE article, Nazer writes, “The Mermaids of Jeddah series explores the tension, freedom, beauty, and constraint present in Jeddawi women’s lives. Where, as mermaids, these women shift between freedom and restriction in the imposing abayas, tarhas, and niqabs they assume.”

Mermaids are free from men in the protection of the water, but restricted by their inability to exist as a complete human or fish. In this way, Nazer notes, Jeddawi women are like mermaids: “...the sea exists as an entity of liberation, freeing an individual from the land; however, simultaneously, as a form of restraint, restricting the body from its habitual mode of motion and consuming it within another material.”

These striking photographs work to capture varying presentations of the body covered within different natural environments, experienced by the mermaid, and native to Jeddah. Working with Jeddah stylist and childhood friend Latifa Bint Saad, Nazer selected fabrics symbolic of purity and youth to dress the models. Saad, who is currently studying fashion and styling in London, agreed to make the garments Nazer was describing. After two months of planning and finding subjects, they wrapped the series in one eight-hour shoot.

According to Nazer, the project began in a photography class taught by School of the Arts alumna Alex Strada ’16. in a comment to the university Nazer said, “Mermaids of Jeddah came about after focusing on the subject of coverage in Alex Strada’s Photo II Class for the entirety of the semester, and then finding the opportunity to shoot that subject in my home of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.”

Nazer added, “I have transformed the series into objects of coverage themselves, and am hoping to put together an exhibition in the near future. I also hope to continue exploring analog photography to capture the essence of my experience growing up in Jeddah, which I hope to do if I am able to go back home.”

The series was also recelty featured in the April edition of ELLE Arabia, and will include an interview with Nazer and Saad.