Madeline's doctoral research at University of the Arts London Chelsea College of Arts & Design (anticipated completion in 2019) takes its content from the Middle Eastern contemporary photographic art market from 1998-2012 and problematizes its role within the broader histories of photography and contemporary art. Its starting point is that the Middle Eastern contemporary art market is one of the fastest growing markets within the realm of contemporary art and, since the late 1990s, photography occupies a large portion of this structure. This research identifies and examines the specific dynamics of this largely unrecorded and nascent photographic art history, exploring the transnational circulation of objects within distinct yet overlapping art historical, commercial and curatorial realms.


Focusing largely on how photographic works created by artists identified as ‘Middle Eastern’ operate within these realms, this study serves as a prism for exploring the Middle East’s heterogeneous makeup, where exists heightened individual, cultural and nationalistic negotiations. This temporally and spatially specific example attests to the commodification of diversity, and questions how the aesthetics and production of contemporary Middle Eastern art photography are contextually distinct and authentic within the field. Furthermore, it points to the challenges in historicising contemporary art photography that ‘emerges’ from locations previously deemed peripheral to art historical thought. Through a series of case studies, the research contributes to a broader understanding of the conditions, mechanisms and implications by which emergent photographic practices, critical frameworks, and photographic art histories are established regionally, nationally and transnationally. 

© 2018 Madeline Yale Preston & John Rampton

Madeline Yale Preston | Photography Specialist | Arts Advisor | Consultant