“Words are never just words, and every hurtful word is a new drop in the waters of discrimination that have grown to surround us and define us as different. Hurtful words are dark, but humans are of no colour; it’s about time to drown the wrong standards of beauty.”
With these few words, Adel Essam and Henar Sherif, the founders of O-Art-Studio, describes their new photography project “No Colour”, which tackles the discrimination that women with coloured skin encounter in their daily lives in Egypt. The project was posted on social media and managed to draw attention to one of the types of discrimination that most people are not willing to speak about.
Although this is not the first photography project to be produced by O-Art-Studio, this project was the first to present a social problem and highlight contradictions in an artistic way.
“The whole thing started when Maha Mohammed, the project manager, suggested shedding light on the sufferings of the coloured women in Egypt, who face societal pressure and rejection on many different scales,” Essam said.
Aiming to dig deeper and get more information, Mohammed contacted 25 women with dark skin to listen to their different problems and various struggles.
“We listened to some shocking stories of girls who have been abused by their own parents because of their dark skin, a girl who was fired from her work because she cannot represent a big company, a girl who had to break up with her fiancé because his family doesn’t approve of her outer appearance, and many other heartbreaking stories that can hardly be believed,” he added.
A casting has been held to choose ten girls to be featured in the photos and the video. “We had to eliminate the number to suit the shooting location; however, we released a hashtag called #Project_no_color to allow other girls to tell their stories freely, even if they have not been chosen for the photos,” he noted.
Although the shooting took place in the Miami area in Alexandria, it was not an easy task to convince people of the message the project tries to convey.
“We chose to shoot inside the water to add a deeper, insightful perspective to the sufferings of those girls who are always overloaded with people’s ridiculous and insulting judgments. However, we had to hear some silly comments that we managed to overcome,” he added.
Thanks to a big production team that includes a number of young talented artists such as Disha Hisham, Maha Ali, Sahar El Zoghbi, Salma El Gamal, Hisham Attallah, and Abdel Rahman Hammam, the project managed to successfully convey its message to the target audience.
“We aim at changing people’s oppressive stereotypes towards certain groups. O-Art-Studio is a non-profitable artistic venue that will continue to support art for the sake of art and social change,” Essam concluded.