“Artistic images don’t bring weapons in the struggle,” Jacques Rancière has written. Instead, “they help frame new configurations of the visible and the thinkable, which also means a new landscape of the possible.” A more productive way to think about the political intervention commanded by the use of photography in this exhibition might be to consider how the images create what Rancière calls “dissensus” around consensual “ways of seeing.” For Rancière, a dissensus challenges what has already been decided in advance; it is a “dispute on what is given, on the name that can be given of it and the sense that can be made of it.”Importantly, a dissensus does this not by denouncing a given reality or by reduplicating it (only “better”) but by building “other ‘realities’ or other forms of ‘commonsense,’ which means other settings of time and space, other communities of words and things, of perceptions and meanings.” It means building other worlds, as Hadjithomas and Joreige might put it. This, Rancière says, is where “[a]rt and politics begin.” Exploring how the works in Light from the Middle East create dissensus would prevent any single piece from being reduced to being “about politics” and, at the same time, would open up photography to a more intensely charged notion of the political. Consider, in this regard, one of the images in Newsha Tavakolian’s Mothers of Martyrs (2006)series, which appears in the section “recording.” The image shows a mother, sitting on a chair, holding a portrait of her martyred son in front of a black banner on which is written the word Moharram. According to the logic of the exhibition, the poignancy of this image must be explained either in terms of “the photographic” (the catalogue discusses Tavakolian’s ability to show, in a photograph, how a photograph can capture the likeness of an absent person) or in terms of “the political and cultural” (here it refers to her allusions to Shi’i martyrdom). But the power of Tavakolian’s work arguably lies in how it brings these elements (and more) together, without collapsing them into each other. Tavakolian’s image creates new connections, in Rancière’s terms, between word forms and visual forms, between different spaces and times, a here and an elsewhere, a now and a then: between the portrait of the boy and the word on the banner, between the martyrs of the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988) and the Shi‘i martyrs of 680-683, between the individual martyr in the hands of his mother and the “myth of martyrdom” that Abbas decries in his book Allah O Akbar.