14 Jun 2023 - 13 Oct 2023

A River Flows Downstream

Middle East Institute


The Middle East Institute (MEI) Arts and Culture Center, in partnership with Tribe Photo Magazine, is proud to announce the opening of the photography exhibit, A River Flows Downstream, on Wednesday, June 14, 2023 from 6-8pm at the MEI Art Gallery at 1763 N Street NW, Washington, DC 20036. Curated by Roï Saade, the exhibit features eight participating artists from the Middle East who explore the theme of water and rivers in the Middle East and the impact of the climate crisis and geopolitics on these diminishing resources.

The exhibit explores the concept of a journey along the river into the disparate world of ecosystems in different space and time. Along the journey, artists invite audiences to engage with the shifting ecological and cultural landscapes that they photograph, and the impact that water – in its scarcity or abundance – has had on communities. The works on display underscore the interdependence between the natural world and humanity and how crucial this relationship is to the future of both worlds.

Speaking with curator Roï Saade, he reflected on the thought-provoking and evocative narrative portrayed in this exhibit – one that sheds light on one of the most challenging relationships of our time. The exhibit showcases the diversity and complexity of these ever-changing landscapes, igniting a dialogue about our unknown future.

Saade is an interdisciplinary artist focused on the intersectionality between graphic design, photography, and the arts. Saade is interested in finding and creating ways to resist systems of domination and inequality. As a photographer, Saade’s work attempts to investigate individual and collective identity through the documentation of social and personal encounters. Saade is currently a research associate at Access in the Making Research Lab at Concordia University, Montreal. His photography work has been exhibited in museums and galleries in Canada, Jordan, Lebanon and New York.

“MEI’s Arts and Culture Center is delighted to bring Saade’s powerful exhibition to DC audiences,” added Lyne Sneige, director of the Arts and Culture Center at the Middle East Institute. “The beautiful work in the show speaks not only to the immense talent of the photographers, but also to the power of the arts to play an integral role in fostering a collective commitment to safeguarding our most precious resource – water.”

The participating artists are: Hoda Afshar (Iran), Zied Ben Romdhane (Tunisia), Solmaz Daryani (Iran), Reem Falaknaz (UAE), Paul Gorra (Lebanon), Emin Özman (Turkey), Roï Saade & Tamara Abdul Hadi (Lebanon/Iraq).

Press release from the Middle East Institute