During London Fashion Week at The Den, Wardour Street, Soho saw the week long display, starting on February 17th 2016, of work by artist, director and photographer; Nijad Abdul Massih as part of his “Love Me Love Me Not” exhibition during the London Fashion Week.
Having grown up in Lebanon, of Lebanese and Italian descent, Abdul Massih bore witness to the extreme side effects of war throughout the course of his life, his reactions to these events often inform much of his creative output. In addition to life in a war torn country – Abdul Massih saw two women closely related to him suffer the extremely violent abuse of their respective partners – it is these two unfortunate cases that inspired the basis and root message of his latest exhibition.
The exhibit highlights the suffering of women from all sorts of different countries and backgrounds making the exhibit’s message one of global significance as well as one of extreme personal outpouring. The exhibit as a whole however is not gratuitously violent or negative in its portrayal of it various messages and key themes, instead Abdul Massih opts to develop complex pieces that each portray narratives of great depth – both as stand alone pieces and as part of the series as a whole.
By using the medium of photo montage and the expert layering of multiple images, distorting faces and obscuring key features; Abdul Massih manages to expertly combine elements of the human form with natural objects, surfaces, forms and textures to create pieces that don’t just speak of the physical violence unfairly aimed at women but the psychological Sand to Sand Killings – Honor Killings violence too – as well as the long lasting effects of both that the victims have to live with.
Over the course of the exhibition Abdul Massih manages to explore the themes of arranged marriages, forced marriages, on-going physical violence, rape, the portrayal of female identity in the media, the public’s view of female sexuality, the objectification of women as well as many more key issues.
In order to allow his pieces, and their respective messages – all of which are long considered and explored before the first picture is taken, to reach their broadest audience possible Abdul Massih decided to use well known models, presenters, actresses and even an ex-Miss USA contestant.
By using successful women from all corners of the globe as his subjects Abdul Massih makes sure that his message retains its global significance whilst also celebrating the success of strong, independent women who have strived and achieved much in their respective industries and fields. A different international fashion designer dresses each talent and Abdul Massih makes sure to only use natural light when shooting his subjects. When all of this comes together under the expert eye of Abdul Massih, fully familiar with the use of the camera as an artistic tool thanks to years of television work, you get pieces that are not just well informed, and representative of a global social issue, but examples of work by an artist that is truly at one with his craft.
For further information, please watch his interviews in English and Arabic: