Director: Issa Touma

Victoria and Albert Museum Collection :

( V&A )Photography Collection of Issa Touma Syrian Photographer will be open Under the Name : Light from the Middle East: New Photography', which will be open to public at the V&A from 13 November 2012 to 7 April 2013.

11photographs of a Sufi festival by Issa Touma, have been added to the ArtFund Collection of Middle Eastern Photography at the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum .

For the last ten years ISSA TOUMA ,he has photographed the Sufi procession of the Rifa'i brotherhood, ‘the day of al-Ziyara’, made in honor of the Sufi teacher Al-Sheikh Abou Bakr Al-Huwari.

Sufism is a mystical order of Islam. Pilgrims visit the shrine of the Holy Marabout, bearing money and other gifts, and indulge in music, dance, song and mystical rituals where many are said to experience religious ecstasy. The culmination of the procession is the spectacle of the mortification of the flesh; a self inflicted wounding which is seen as an extreme act of faith. While this Sufi meeting is on the margins of mainstream Islamic religious traditions, it is nevertheless remains popular.....

first Syrian photographers at V&A Collection. so this significant piece would go towards redressing the international balance and remit of the collection. Touma’s photographs are significant in their documentary as well as their compositional and artistic qualities. They provide a rare glimpse of a religious ceremony that will be unfamiliar to many in the UK.Touma’s works not only presents a view of a contemporary Middle Eastern patriarchal society from a male perspective, but its photographic style would also provide a visual counter-balance to the more conceptual and color works

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About Issa Touma (born Safita, Syria, lives and works in Aleppo
Issa Touma is a prominent figure in the Syrian art scene. Self-taught, he began
his career as a photographer in the early 1990s. Finding himself isolated from
the international art world and photography scene, he established Black and
White, a gallery dedicated to photography, in Aleppo in 1992. After its closure, in
1996 he founded Le Pont Organisation and Gallery, an independent art
organisation to promote freedom of expression and stimulate the local art
scene through international events.
In 1996 Touma was art director of the first European-Arab jazz festival in
Aleppo, and in 1997 Le Pont hosted the first International Photography
Gathering, Aleppo, one of the first international contemporary photography
events in the Middle East. Le Pont has also organised the International
Women’s Art Festival in Aleppo since 1999.
Le Pont Gallery shows exhibitions of photography from Syrian and international
artists and functions as an open cultural space, running photography classes
and workshops. In Spring 2012, it initiated the Art Camping workshops, which
attempt to counter the violence of the insurgency with artistic interventions
around Aleppo.
Touma’s own photographs reflect social and political life in Syria, with a focus
on the city of Aleppo. His project Sufi: the Day of al-Ziyara (1995-2005) has been
shown in many exhibitions and festivals internationally, including: Nazar ,
Noorderlicht Photography Festival, Groningen, The Netherlands (2004); and
ECTASY Pilgrimages in Christianity and Islam, Museumpark Orientalis, Heilig
Landstichting, The Netherlands (2008). Dancing for the Big Father an ongoing
series about the omnipresence of photographs of the Syrian President was
shown as part of Exile, Art Center, Silkebord Bad, Denmark (2009) and 2nd
International Antakya Bienali, Turkey (2010). In 2006 Touma served as artistic
consultant for the exhibition Images of Syria, at Moestings Hus, Copenhagen,
which included photographs from his series Aleppo from Above 2006 , and More …