Title: Photopoetry as You Have Never Read/Seen Before: A Study of Alaa Abdel-Hadi’s Shagin (2003)
Stream: Arts - Literary Arts Practices
Presentation Type: Live-Stream Presentation
Ahlam Othman, The British University in Egypt, Egypt
Pairings of poetry and photographs date back to the nineteenth century. However, the name photopoetry, was first used in Photopoems: A Group of Interpretations through Photographs (1936), photographed and compiled by Constance Phillips. Michael Nott (2022) defines photopoetry as “a form of photo-text that takes, for its primary components, poetry and photography” (1). Rather than using photos to illustrate poems or poems to describe photos, however, the poet-cum-artist Alaa Abdel-Hadi uses verbal and visual signs to create an open work, in Umberto Eco's terms, that affords multiple interpretations. In Shagen (Sympatheticus), the homo ludens Abdel-Hadi combines one text with more than one photo, and one photo with more than one text; in addition, his volume lacks pagination and a table of contents, thus inviting the reader/ viewer to play his/ her own game, making connections between, and creating meaning from, text and image. The present study aims at discovering how meaning arises from this dialogic relationship between photos that are raised to the status of linguistic sign, whose relationship to its referent is arbitrary, and texts that are lowered to status of photograph, that is always glued to its referent.
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