This photo essay is an attempt to register the complex political valences of certain shared formal preoccupations in the cinematic, photographic, videographic, and new media works/interventions of Shirin Neshat, Lalla Essaydi, Mona Hatoum, Ana Lily Amirpour, Amina Sboui, and Nadia El Fani. What is contested here is the so-called readability of images, especially those by Middle Eastern women, as these coalesced during the late colonial and postcolonial periods and as they continue today. The “photo-grams” that constitute the essay function neither as illustrations nor as counter-readings, but as frames of a lost or imagined film these filmmaker-photographer-new media activists might have made—despite or perhaps because of their political-geographical-temporal dispersion—as a kind of collective.

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