A photography exhibition by Tasneem Alsultan

Fondazione Studio Marangoni – Via San Zanobi, 32r

8 April – 13 May (Hours: Mon-Sat | 10am-1pm | 3-7pm)

Free entrance

Do we need marriage to signify that we have love?

Do you need a husband to have a significant life?

“Saudi Tales of Love” is a photographic journey through hidden dreams and stories of women who live in Saudi Arabia. Tasneem Alsultan explores themes of marriage, divorce, courageous choices and nonconformity through retelling stories of women who decided to break free from the taboos and expectations of their Saudi society.

I started the project thinking I only had my personal story to share. I was married at the age of 17,  and living separately as a single parent for the last six years of an unhappy 10 year marriage. Many family members commented on how foolish I was to ask for a divorce. Only later, I realized that there were many Saudi women who had similar experiences, beyond my expectations of a typical Saudi housewife. (Tasneem Alsultan)

In Saudi Arabia, all women are required to have a male guardian (usually a father or husband) who is responsible for making critical decisions on their woman’s behalf. The permission of a male guardian is necessary to travel, marry or exit prison. Similarly, women struggle far more than their husbands when seeking a divorce. A recent Human Rights Watch report draws attention to this imbalance, detailing how men remain women’s guardians, with all the associated control, during court proceedings until  a divorce is finalized. Alsultan’s photography brings to light the courage of women in Saudi Arabia who fight to have their voice heard.

The exhibition opening is part of the Middle East Now film festival happening this week in Florence. Alsultan’s project contributes to the festival’s mission of sharing the unseen images of the Middle East, by allowing us to peep into a typically impenetrable aspect of Saudi culture.


Tasneem Alsultan was born in the US and educated in England, returning to Saudi Arabia for her undergraduate studies. Her masters focused on the ethnographic study of Saudi women abroad, receiving an MA from Portland State University. After years of teaching in universities between Saudi Arabia and the United States, she ventured into photography. After shooting weddings for five years (“I see the irony in being a divorced wedding photographer”), she now uses her story telling experience to document topics focusing on human rights specific to gender and social issues in Saudi Arabia.

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Attend the exhibition opening on Saturday, April 8th at 6.00 pm!

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