( See a walkthrough of Noor’s exhibit here! Hayati – My Life/My Love )
Noor Aldayeh is a visual artist from Los Angeles, California. She is an Honors Film and Media student at Emory University minoring in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality studies, and acts as a student photographer for the Office of Belonging Community and Justice at the university. Our conversation centered around Noor’s thesis project ”Hayati (حياتي) – My Life / My Love,” an archive of queer, Middle Eastern and North African women and gender non-conforming-individuals across the US photographed alongside their personal safe spaces.
Noor discusses what drew them to this subject matter, observing exploitative tropes of orientalist photography and, conversely, finding role models in other SWANA woman artists. She explains how she approaches photography in a way that maximizes the subject’s autonomy and consent. Noor also mentions how this project has been a conduit for finding community in multiple cities–something they weren’t able to access easily in their upbringing and college career–and how they plan to continue the work after graduation.