May Alkharafi


736,940 is the number of females in Kuwait between the ages of 15 and 64 as of July 2012, the general age range that I address in my work. 736,940 is a visual exploration of the social status of Kuwaiti women in relation to tradition, religion, authority, and their physical and emotional negotiation of Kuwaiti society. The work explores the role of Kuwaiti traditions that create and maintain a lower status for Kuwaiti women. Through visualizing women's anonymity and representations of cultural authority I deconstruct the power struggle in a disconnected and unequal society. I employ various media to define, comment on, and critique issues that contribute to the creation of a Kuwaiti woman. I investigate Kuwaiti women's social status through ideas of authority and anonymity. Authority is explored through examining censorship and the social roles assigned to women. I utilize the idea of anonymity to communicate how Kuwaiti women are perceived and how they function within the confines of both spoken and unspoken social rules. My work is comprised of portraits of Kuwaiti women, constructed photographic scenes, deconstructed videos, and books to explore the different aspects of Kuwaiti women's negotiation of their preconceived social roles. My temporary/current position as an outsider--born in Kuwait and currently living in the United States --is an underlying element of the various bodies of work that I created. My physical and emotional detachment enabled me to produce the work for 736,940. The feeling of removal from Kuwait translated to my working process and the artwork itself. 736,940 was conceived in Kuwait but realized in the U.S., removing it from its place of origin, and in many cases, its original form.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Women--Kuwait--Portraits; Portrait photography; Photography of women; Women--Kuwait--Social conditions--Pictorial works

Publication Date


Document Type


Department, Program, or Center

School of Photographic Arts and Sciences (CIAS)


Williams, Carla

Advisor/Committee Member

Shank, Christine


Note: imported from RIT’s Digital Media Library running on DSpace to RIT Scholar Works. Physical copy available through RIT's The Wallace Library at: TR681.W6 A54 2013


RIT – Main Campus

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