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The Boston Globe

Theater & art

Photography Review

The Middle East through women’s cameras

The most famous storyteller in Middle Eastern culture is a woman, Scheherazade. In the “Thousand and One Nights,” she told stories to save her life. Her exalted status lends a grim irony to the fact that the lives of women in much of the Middle East are radically circumscribed — and it lends a defiant irony to the title of “She Who Tells a Story: Women Photographers From Iran and the Arab World.” Organized by Kristen Gresh, the show runs at the Museum of Fine Arts through Jan. 12. Gresh is the MFA’s Estrellita and Yousuf Karsh assistant curator of photographs.

The dozen photographers in “She Who Tells a Story” are between 32 and 57, children of a post-colonial but pre-Internet world. Although they often use narrative as a vehicle, storytelling interests them less, perhaps, than making statements does. Which makes perfect sense, the power of images to provoke being what it is — and the necessity for statements in such a turbulent region being what it is.

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