Arab Spring photographs added to British Museum and V&A collection
Publicado3 Jul 2012
Art Fund says it is giving £150,000 to establish joint collection that has been in development over the last three years.
Photographs created in reaction to the Arab Spring will form an important part of the collection. Photograph: Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images
Photographs created in reaction to the Arab Spring of 2011 will form an important part of a major collection of Middle Eastern photography being established jointly by the British Museum and the V&A.
The Art Fund said it was giving £150,000 to establish a collection that has been in development by the two institutions over the last three years.
The fund's director, Stephen Deuchar, said it would help remedy an under-representation. "It is a response to the surge in interest in visual arts in that part of the world, a surge that has not been matched by its representation in museums generally."
Both institutions have hugely important photographic collections for slightly different reasons. Roughly speaking the British Museum collects to tell the stories of societies while the V&A explores the possibilities of particular mediums.
"Putting the two together allows so many different narratives and no narrative, I think, is more important at the moment than that of the contemporary Middle East," said the British Museum's director, Neil MacGregor. "That is a world that we need to understand and photography is a particularly powerful way of allowing us to do so."
More than 80 works by 22 artists form the collection to date including more recent photographs taken as a response to the Arab Spring. Most of the works will be on show at an exhibition called Light from the Middle East: New Photography at the V&A that will run from 13 November until 7 April 2013.
That show's curator, Marta Weiss, said contemporary Middle East photography was some of the "most exciting, innovative and varied art anywhere in the world."
The artists include Youssef Nabil who took portraits of the last surviving members of the group of Yemeni seamen who settled in South Shields to become the UK's oldest Muslim and Arab community; and the Iranian photographer Shadi Ghadirian who took portraits of women dressed in traditional late 19th century clothing but with modern anomalies added – such as sun glasses or a Pepsi can.
The donation came as the Art Fund gave an annual update on its activities and revealed a 20% rise in membership in 2011/12. That increase was down to the launch in April 2011 of its National Art Pass which gives free or discounted entry to museums and galleries across the UK.
The Fund gave a total of £6m to arts organisations to help them purchase works of art including its biggest ever grant of £2m which it gave to the National Gallery and National Galleries of Scotland for Titian's Diana and Callisto.
• This article was amended on 28 June 2012 to clarify a sentence about the artist Youssef Nabil's portraits.
in The Guardian.