Bonham’s Auction in Dubai Signals Demand for Middle Eastern Photography

Mystified, 1997 – Copyright Shirin Neshat

Following the recent socio-political upheaval that has gripped the Middle East this year, apparently there’s a strong interest in buying photography that also speaks of revolution. International fine art dealer Bonham’s held their first ever dedicated photography sale in Dubai on April 13, 2011.

Among it’s top 10 sales was Iranian-born photographer Shirin Neshat’s Mystified (shown above) which depicts a Muslim woman speaking (singing?) into a vintage microphone. This powerful image sold for $36,000, significantly higher than iconic images from classic photographers like Julia Margaret Cameron, Irving Penn and Arnold Newman.

Untitled, 2008 – Copyright Gohar Dashti 

The success of this auction is clearly a sign of a long-neglected market. Bonham’s is also attributing the addition of online live bidding (new this year) to driving sales from international collectors not on site.

Other Middle Eastern photographers featured in the auction were Amr Fekry (Egypt), Camille Zakharia (Lebanon), Kourush Adim (Iran), Siamak Zomorrdi-e Motlach (Iran), Jamshid Bayrami (Iran), Lalla Essaydi (Morocco), Nadine Kanso (Lebanon), Majid Koorang Beheshti (Iran), Faisal Samra (Saudi Arabia), Bahman Jalali (Iran), Ziad Antar (Lebanon), Arman Stepanian (Iran/Armenia), Alireza Fani (Iran), Gohar Dashti (Iran) and so many more.

Consolation, 2009 – Copyright Nazif Topcuoglu

Check out the online catalogue – I promise you will be inspired by these visionary photographers creating images in what is often such politically oppressive environments.

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