Aljohara Jeje is a Saudi based Dutch artist who is one of 50 creatives that now has their self-portrait featured in a UK based exhibition called, “SELFIES: Women In Photography.” Jeje’s entry is entitled, “Reflection,” and is an important piece for her as it also won a prize for Best International Image at the exhibition, and was selected from a series of photographs she had taken based on women called “Performance.”
The virtual exhibition, “SELFIES,” will run until 31st July and features just 50 images taken by women that have been chosen from over 500 submitted entries from Royal Photography Society members, and non-members from all over the world including, Brazil, Argentina, Saudi Arabia, India and Greece.
Jeje grew up in the north of Europe and has lived a rather nomadic lifestyle as she has also lived in China, Portugal and Italy – where she found commonality when others saw difference between themselves. One of the ideas that really stuck with her on her travels was that women everywhere, no matter their culture or education, were always expected to perform or behave in a particular way that may have been outside their comfort zones.
Aljohara said, “Growing up in Europe, I was told to, ‘Shut up and be pretty.’ We were taught to be silent, not to speak our minds, to talk when spoken to and to always be appeasing and pleasant.” She continued, explaining her exhibited photograph from the “SELFIE” exhibition, “We women are all well-educated and more or less liberated. But still we are falling back to these old patterns. So, I think one of the problems is also that women still do not speak out. In ‘Reflection,’ for example, my eyes are covered and my mouth is closed. What drew me to the exhibition is this duality in women.”
The visual artist left Europe over five years ago and is now settled in Jeddah, where she hopes to live “forever,” and is hopeful that women will visit the virtual exhibition. “These are images where you can reflect on yourself or where you can find yourself. It is really overwhelming how beautiful they are and sometimes you can see the beauty and the struggle of the women and that is, of course, very human as well. Some images are very poetic, others very raw and brutal, but also this is a part of who we are,” she said.
Jeje also explained how she thinks that the exhibition will also give men an insight into how women view themselves. The panel that curated the exhibition included photographer Amak Mahmoodian, Teri Walker Women in Photography Chairperson, RPS Director of Development Tracy Marshall-Grant and Laura Noble, curator and founder of LA Noble Gallery.