Does this exhibit challenge or perpetuate stereotypes?

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An exhibit featuring the photography of 12 women from Iran and the Arab world will open this week at the prestigious Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts. Entitled “She Who Tells a Story,” the exhibit includes the work of Jananne Al-Ani, Boushra Almutawakel, Gohar Dashti, Rana El Nemr, Lalla Essaydi, Shadi Ghadirian, Tanya Habjouqa, Rula Halawani, Nermine Hammam, Rania Matar, Shirin Neshat, and Newsha Tavakolian. Though many of the women now live in the United States, they hail from Jordan, Yemen, Morocco, Iraq, Egypt, Lebanon and Iran, which, despite the description in the New York Times, is not part of the Arab world.

Rania Matar, from Lebanon appreciates the exhibit for not merely focusing on the violence and instability in Iran and the Arab world, “but the humanity behind it.” She says, “It’s refreshing to have this exhibit right now because I think all we’re seeing from the Middle East — it’s sadness, it’s death, it’s killing.”

The curator, Kristen Gresh, writes in the introduction to the exhibit:  “Though these photographers challenge stereotypes, the choice to unite them as a group has been seen by some, ironically, as confirming a stereotype.” So, what do you think? Does the exhibit confirm or challenge stereotypes? To answer that question, take a look at the photographs.

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