1st Place, Tasneem Alsultan, Saudi Arabia
Saudi Tales of Love
Whilst Saudi Arabia is an international symbol of Islam, many Saudis would agree that there's a strong disconnect between the Qur'an and local traditions. I wanted to answer question that many shared: Do we need marriage to signify that we have love? Do you need a husband to have a significant life?
I started the project thinking I only had my personal story to share. I was married at the age of 17, and living separately as a single parent for the last six years of an unhappy 10 year marriage. Many family members commented on how foolish I was to ask for a divorce. Only later, I realized that there were many Saudi women who had similar experiences, beyond my expectations of a typical Saudi housewife.
With each story, I found more women sharing complex marriage theories and experiences. I followed the stories of widows, happily married, and divorced women. I explored the concept of love, photographing my young daughter and grandmother. Utilizing imagery (with permission from those weddings I photographed) I interlaced the construction and expectation of marriage through often elaborate wedding ceremony imagery and rituals. A common realization with every woman I photographed, was that they all managed to overcome the many hurdles that was put by society or/ and state.