Jowhara AlSaud

Experimental photographer, Jowhara AlSaud, shares with Design Magazine the technique behind her latest series, Out of Line, and her enthusiasm for the emerging Saudi Art scene. Capturing intimate and everyday moments while among friends and family, AlSaud is always with camera close at hand, as it‘s these casual and natural vignettes that inspire her work.

Having participated in many prestigious international exhibitions and art fairs, such as Art Basel Miami and Switzerland ‚10, Shanghai ‚10, among others, there‘s a reason why her recent series has garnered the attention of the international art community while crisscrossing the globe. Relevant in any cultural context, the Out of Line series creates visual interest and beauty, which was originally conceived while attempting to circumvent issues of censorship. Drawings from snapshots of intimate moments, shared among friends and family, are carefully etched out of negatives to create dynamic minimalist photographs.

By adhering to the codes of decorum, where absence is as telling as the details. AlSaud uses social taboos as a departure point for both medium and message. ponder the medium’s authority,limitations, and what we bring to it as viewers. „

Contrary to popular belief, the Out of Line series has neither not been digitally manipulated nor created by drawing on a photographic print. Although the technique employed to create this series is not common practice, AlSaud „[urges] the viewer to re-examine photography as a medium, how easy it is to manipulate a photograph without any digital interventions and to therefore ponder the medium’s authority, limitations, and what we bring to it as viewers.”

Using a large format view cameras, both 4×5 and 8×10, another picture is taken, producing a 4×5 or 8×10 negative. When prompted to describe a large format camera, AlSaud charmingly describes an almost obsolete photographic practice that has been overshadowed by digital photography.“You’ve seen old pictures with a box-like camera and a photographer behind it under a black cloth….it‘s one of those.“ This constructed photograph, which is created from “old notebooks, envelopes“… usually discarded scraps that are disappearing from our lives because of digital technology so they‘ve become relics…nostalgic throwaways,“ then serves as the background for the spontaneous snapshot taken earlier.

With fine-tipped engravers and dental tools, AlSaud then begins {scratching away at the negative of the background.}

The seemingly drawn portion of the photograph that the viewer enjoys, actually „is the result of the emulsion I‘ve removed from the negative‘s surface by hand,“ explains AlSaud. Once this subtractive process of etching and drawing is complete, the resulting negative is then printed in a traditional color darkroom on regular photographic paper to comprise what we have come to appreciate as the Out of Line series.

{The easiest way to explain it is a stencil, but instead of paint, it’s light that fills in the lines,} and the viewer is left to fill the details.

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