ADPP 2021: Framing the Personal and the Political
07 Nov 2022

After a year of hard work, 10 photo stories supported during the 2021 cycle of the Arab Documentary Photography Program (ADPP) are up and ready to be viewed on the ADPP website.

The projects document the personal and political fears, anxieties and impacts that our built spaces — whether real, imagined, or somewhere in between — in Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Libya, Syria and Palestine can have on dwellers and travelers.

Take a brief wander through the projects below, but be sure to look at each of the photographers and their compelling stories that make up the 8th cycle of ADPP here.

In “Baby Pigeon,” Jordanian visual storyteller Lina Khalid uses black and white photographs and self-portraits along with deeply personal texts to portray her painful battle with cancer.

“A month after starting chemotherapy, I realized that I myself was a lot like zagloul el hamam, a baby pigeon, whose fragile body could not love or fly” – she writes, describing her project.

Egyptian photographer Doaa Nasr also plumbs the depths of the personal with her “The Many Disguises of Miss Invisible.” In the project, she documents the feelings of fear, anxiety, loneliness, uncertainty, and internal war with one’s own ideas that women in Upper Egypt experienced during the pandemic.

In his personal project, “How Was Everything Before All This Ruin?,” Ameen Abo Kaseem, a Palestinian from Syria, dives into memories to try to make sense of his past, present and future.

In “Life Could End,” Aya Albarghathy from Libya studies the photographer’s relationship to Benghazi, where she cannot roam freely and where feelings of anxiety and narrowness overwhelm her every time she walks about. “When I'm in the city, I feel like my soul is on its toes, as if I'm waiting for something bad to happen”, she writes.

In “Imagined City”, Ghayyan Al Amine from Lebanon dreams of Beirut from his place of residence in Doha. The two cities converge in his mind, with his family and loved ones suspended in between.

Driven by her search for patches of green around Beirut, Ieva Saudargaite Douaihi from Lebanon finds a city constantly negotiating its relationship with nature in “my canary sings to me.” “The city is in a constant push and pull with the natural world: some neighborhoods exterminate it, others welcome it but domesticate it. No matter the extent of human activity, the wilderness is always rushing back in to claim its place amongst us,” she writes.

Egyptian photographer Mohamed Hozyen’s photo project “If They Move Me…I Die” presents the chaotic force of development in greater Cairo and its impact on the city’s social fabric. Hozyen zooms in on the story of their own grandmother, forced to either purchase an apartment she cannot afford or leave her neighborhood.

In “Cairo, Return” by Ahmed Qabel from Egypt documents life on a third-class train carriage over several trips from his hometown of Ashmoun to Cairo and back.

Through his photo project “Red Brick Dreams”, Egyptian visual storyteller Mohammad Kotb portrays the vicious cycle that traps poor rural families and forces their daughters to forego their education and instead turn to hard labor in the numerous red brick factories that dot the western shore of the Nile.

Finally, a city under siege and the ad hoc lighting solutions of its inhabitants leaves an unusual but indelible mark: severe burns on the child inhabitants. Samar Abou Elouf from Palestine documents Gazans’ fight against darkness in “The Light from Hell.”

ADPP is an initiative that provides support and mentorship to photographers from across the Arab region. AFAC and the Prince Claus Fund, in partnership with Magnum Foundation, established ADPP in 2014 to stimulate compelling work by Arab photographers working across a range of experimental styles of storytelling. The ADPP has embarked on its ninth cycle in 2022 with a new group of 12 documentary photographers from eight Arab countries, who recently convened in a workshop in Beirut.