Changing the Artistic Scene for Libyan Women

Women have taken the initiative to lead and foster sisterhood and artistic spheres in Libya

Published about 1 year ago in Middle East & North Africa and Opinion

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(Source: Hiba Shalabi)

Photos have been used to tell a story and with the advents of technology, people are still creating memorable memories to share them with their loved ones. Pictures hold stories and morals in between its folds. However, when Libyan photographer Hiba Shalabi was asked what her camera meant to her, she replied, “It is more than just a click.” And I understood the essence of that statement.

Shalabi has inspired so many Libyan women to change the artistic scene in Libya. In her opinion, there are many talented women in Libya but they only need guidance and help to get better at what they do. She encourages girls to keep taking pictures and she provides support for them on social media platforms to shed light on them and their work.

 Anyone can take a picture but few see the beauty that lies within. – Hiba Shalabi.

Heba Abobaker Shalabi is a 41-year-old Libyan photographer and digital artist, but she didn’t start out that way. She has a bachelor’s degree in social care from applied social sciences College. She worked as a social worker for a long time, as well as at University of Tripoli art school and the library at her school. Later, she was fought within her workplace for standing up for the right so she had to quit her job because of the lack of women's rights at her work which made it unbearable anymore even though she only got the support of the dean of the science college. 

Her passion for photography started from an early age when she went for walks with her father in the old city of Tripoli. She aspires to document the little and small details which holds the history and beauty of Tripoli. She first started ion 2003 with an old camera that belonged to her family. She published the pictures she took on her blog, “Lovely Tripoli,” and people began to notice her work but she still wasn’t widely known.

As her career has grown, she has participated in multiple art exhibitions and fairs in and out of Libya. On national level, she participated in a few exhibitions in 2012 at the University of Tripoli. She also participated in PhotoWalk Tripoli on October in 2013 at the Art House. On an international level, she participated in the photo Moroccan organization in Casablanca, Morocco on Women’s Day in March 2016 and the same event on 2017.  Shalabi also took part in Shofithon (شوفتهن) gallery in Tunisia on May 2016 and September 2017. She was the creator of Reflection exhibition (Ine’kas) in which she worked with other three artists and that was in the 11th of February 2017. She collaborated with the Art House to host this event. 

She served as an organizer for the international event, Photo Walk, by Scott Kelby. She called the walk “Our Tripoli Walk” and it was held in the old City of Tripoli in the 7th of October 2017. Following the event, she hosted a gallery that contained the best pictures from the walk supported by the art house in Tripoli on December 2017. She has also participated in the International Autumn Tourism Festival, an annual festival at the end of September in the city of Houn. 

Later in 2017, she started a campaign on social media under the hashtag "#SaveTheOldCityofTripoli" as a way to let the world and primarily Libyans learn about the destruction of their heritage. She has received great response and support from people worldwide. The Old City of Tripoli has faced numerous conflicts that have caused the destruction of its historical buildings, and a lack of effort on the behalf of the government to repair these important landmark. Hiba's campaign is still ongoing and she hopes that she can raise enough awareness to help preserve Libyan history. 

She still believes in the talents of Libyan women in photography and feels encouraged by many that now have proven themselves in this industry. She has managed to convey what Libyan women endure in society via her art work and she continues to encourage women to speak up for their rights through art, writing, or photography.

To keep up with Hiba and her work,
https://www.instagram.com/hiba_shalabi/ 

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