Photographer Sanaa Hamid’s series entitled “Through Her Eyes” shows her attempts to conform to culturally inherited expectations and ideologies that are sometimes imposed on her. It is portrayed through a series of performative self portraits, using the aesthetic style of the Bollywood films and Pakistani actresses that her mother admired when she was her age.
The series is a collaboration between herself and her mother, as the latter is given the responsibility to press the shutter, immortalizing her as an image of a particular character; literally “Through Her Eyes.” It is an exploration of self, while also questioning how possible it is to know those closest to us, and the absence of our true self even with your own mother, who should be the person closest to you.
By displaying the work as a series of four photographs, Hamid takes the viewer through a succession of personalities, encouraging speculation about the photographer herself and her true identity. With influences ranging from the work of Cindy Sherman to Boushra Almutawakel and Sarah Maple, Hamid reinterprets the self portrait to make reference to topical issues of multiculturalism and ethnic identity. Her discomfort in being in front of the camera is another important aspect of the process, as it is parallel with the difficulty of becoming the character.
Also discussed is the modern depictions of Pakistani women, who have very little positive representation within the media and the beauty industry. Hamid’s intention is not to cast a negative view upon her cultural background, but to create awareness about the distinctly different moral guidelines she lives by compared to British culture. In her role as Bollywood stars such as Meena Kumari or Rekha, she is accepted not just by her culture, but by society. She is perfect.
Sanaa Hamid is a photographer from England, due to start her final year of her University degree this year. She often works within the theme of social politics, particularly matters of multiculturalism, cultural and religious identity, gender identity and the battleground of body politics, particularly within an Islamic and South Asian context. In her spare time she enjoys scowling at manifestations of patriarchy and having philosophical conversations with her cats.