• Hero

    Brigitte Lacombe: Swimmer Nada Mohammed Wafa Arkaji, from Qatar

Photography

Brilliant Lacombe sisters' show Hey'Ya featuring Arab sportswomen opens in London

Posted by Rob Alderson,

Maybe it’s just us, but in the race to release creative projects that strike a chord with the Olympic Games, it’s photographers who seem to be making most of the early running. Whether it’s contemporary portraits of competitors from the 1948 games, documenting London’s local sports scenes or just terrific action shots of athletes we’ve already been mighty impressed with the work on offer.

But like London buses (when the anachronistic transport system isn’t staggering under the pressure of an Olympic year) they all seem to come along at once, and Hey’Ya: Arab Women in Sport by the Lacombe sisters is another winner.

Photographer Brigitte and her filmmaker sister Marian have spent months meeting more than 50 athletes from 20 different Arab countries, participants in everything from handball and cycling to shooting and weightlifting. The resulting pictures and videos aim to portray personal stories played out against a backdrop of different cultural codes and they are superbly powerful – simple but steeped in narrative, or narratives, as the show cautions us against making generalisations when it comes to this complex, nuanced issue.

  • Bl2

    Brigitte Lacombe: Fencer Sarra Besbes, from Tunisia

  • Bl7
    Brigitte Lacombe: Basketball Player Amal Mohammed Awad, from Qatar

“Each of them have different stories,” Marian says. “One Palestinian athlete that I interviewed said they did not have any facilities, or any tracks. She will go to the Olympics, she has never seen a track.

“They tell you personal stories, of how they managed to convince their parents, or how their family helped them, or how they had to fight to get into sport. And then someone will tell you that she just wants to be the best – whether or not she had to fight to get into the sport to start with.”

The drive and determination we are used to hearing from top athletes is certainly present throughout, and while some photographs have discernible socio-cultural connotations – the locked gates of a basketball practice to shield the team from view, the sailing boat against the backdrop of a gleaming Qatari business district, the coach in her headscarf and Lacoste-branded apparel – some are simply the athletes doing what they do best.

As Michael Rock, the American creative director of the show and its catalogue, said: ‘These are women who understand the inherently political nature of their acts yet at the same time ask only to pursue their dreams outside the burden of politics.”

  • Green-team_12039_2c3e5907_b

    Brigitte Lacombe: The Green Team, Basketball, from Saudi Arabia

  • Green-team_amina_12039_x3z1940_b

    Brigitte Lacombe: Amina Al Nahdi, The Green Team Coach, Basketball, from Saudi Arabia

  • Bl4

    Brigitte Lacombe: Basketball Player Mariam HUssein, from Somalia

  • Bl5

    Brigitte Lacombe: Athlete Feta Ahamada, from Cormoros

  • Maryam-al-boinin_11080_2c3e9694_b

    Brigitte Lacombe: Equestrian Maryam Al-Boinin, from Qatar

  • Bl1

    Brigitte Lacombe: Athletics team from Sudan

  • Qatar-yachting_11080_2c3e3535_a

    Brigitte Lacombe: Sailing in Qatar

Hey’Ya Arab Women in Sport , presented by the Qatar Museum Authority, is at Sotheby’s St George Street Gallery in London until August 11

Ra

Posted by Rob Alderson

Editor-in-Chief Rob oversees editorial across all three It’s Nice That platforms; online, print and events. He has a background in newspaper journalism and a particular interest in art, advertising and photography. He is the main host of the Studio Audience podcast.

Most Recent: Photography View Archive

  1. List

    Johnny Dufort is a photographer from Cornwall who is currently living and working in London. That’s about all we know of him thus far, but we’re dead certain it won’t be the case for long; the young’un was picked up by i-D earlier this summer as one of the new generation of photographers, and as they so aptly phrased it, “learn their names, because you’re going to need them!”

  2. List

    Ester Grass Vergara has been on the site before with her wonderful monochrome plants but her portraits of beautiful human beings are just as enticing. Her style is all about the crisp lines and fresh faces with wonderful tones and shadows glancing off sculpted cheekbones and glistening hair.

  3. List

    Ambition is an often underrated component of creative undertakings, but that’s not a charge that can be levelled at Robert Bösch’s genuinely astonishing shoot for Mammut’s 2015 campaign. Working with hundreds of specialist climbers, Robert took this extraordinary series of images to mark the 150th anniversary of the first ascent of the Matterhorn ridge by Edward Whymper. These pictures have been doing the rounds for a few weeks now but if you haven’t come across them yet then let yourself be dazzled by their brilliance and the organisational feats that brought them into being.

  4. List

    If you’re yet to be acquainted with the weird and wonderful world of Toiletpaper then allow us to introduce you. Artist Maurizio Cattelan, photographer Pierpaolo Ferrari and art director Micol Talso got together some years back to create images which distilled their passion for the bizarre, the grotesque, the darkly humorous and the sensual. From this came Toiletpaper Magazine, and before long their work had spread across the fashion and art industries like wildfire, picking up the attention of a number of big-time brands along the way. No surprises there.

  5. List

    It’s a well-established fact that even the most conceptually exciting product designs can fall flat on their face if they’re photographed poorly. Imagery can often make or break these projects. And while of course this isn’t the be-all and end-all, it’s worth taking this part of the process seriously to maximise the chances of your work cutting through the noise.

  6. List-kurt

    Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain is easily one of the most mythologised, eulogised and conspiracy-theorised musicians of the last century. Whether we consider his sad induction into the 27-club, his tumultuous relationship with Malaysia Airlines mystery-solving wallflower Courtney Love or the various mental and physical ailments that manifested themselves so intensely through his songs, Kurt’s was a life destined for scrutiny.

  7. List

    To say that Rebecca Reeve enjoys a magnificent view is not to do her work justice. The British-born, New York-based photographer has long been occupied with framing landscapes with domestic devices in her work, from placing a pair of translucent curtains around a mountain range and invoking the Dutch custom of covering paintings at the wakes of deceased family members to help them make the transition to the afterlife, to hanging a blind in front of a swamp to oddly effective ends. On an aesthetic level this unusual use of the prop partially obscures her chosen view, bringing a curious sense of mystery to the image, but the subversion of that familiar sense of domesticity resonates much further than surface level, creating an odd feeling of displacement with a surrealist slant.

  8. List

    A couple of weeks ago, Channel 4 aired a documentary (below) which saw photographer Giles Duley (himself a triple amputee) meet some of the disabled victims of the war in Syria. It was a difficult watch but an extremely important story to tell, and one that meant a lot to Giles. He got in touch to say that although The Guardian ran an in-depth piece on the same theme, he had some photographs which weren’t used that he was really keen to get out there.

  9. Main1

    Every once in a while it’s worth having a good old stare at the architecture around us. Often we simply stop noticing buildings because they’re so good at doing what they’re supposed to do; which is a shame because as well as functionality, there’s an overlooked beauty within those structures we can all appreciate.

  10. List

    If you ask me, the beauty of Maciek Pozoga’s work lies in the fact that it can’t be pinned down. He’s eternally “juggling between documentary, art and fashion,” as his website explains, resulting in a style which grows “from a specific conception of documentary images, naturalistic and authentic but tinged with poetry and humour.”

  11. Main

    I’m super into these portraits by Maya Fuhr, I think I spent about 45 seconds staring into the pond-coloured eyes of the guy two pics down. Maya’s got this magic touch when it comes to photography, her work is so simultaneously humble and powerful, making her the perfect candidate for quietly strong editorial and personal work. We’ve covered her editorial before – a brilliant photo shoot of girls in messy bedrooms – but something about the power of her portraits made us want to write about her again. She also recently opened up to us about her days as college a fresher, and the perils of choosing the wrong degree (with some brilliant photographs of her in 2008 to accompany it, naturally).

  12. List

    In December last year we received a zine in the post from Yorkshire-based photographer Christopher Nunn that documented a small selection of images he’d gathered in Ukraine. Kalush offered a unique perspective on a region that was thrust suddenly and violently into the public consciousness, showing us the quiet, everyday side of a place that – from television coverage at least – you’d have been forgiven for assuming was razed to the ground.

  13. Main_15.08.13

    Another one pilfered off Haw-Lin here I’m afraid, (I can’t help it if their taste is better than everyone else’s can I?). This charming selection of photographs of aesthetically-blessed chaps hanging out with pedigree dogs is by Philippe Jarrigeon, the man who once charmed us with square oranges back in the day. This shoot was commissioned by the spectacular Double Magazine, and is testament to why they’re currently on their 27th issue – they clearly know what they’re doing content-wise. If you think cute boys and pups are click-bait then I’d be inclined to disagree – the world needs happy photography, and you don’t get much more joy in an editorial than this. Like what you see? Let me point you this way to another fantastic shoot with a similar concept from 2012.