Discovered this announcement at the ORIENTALiSH blog about the first solo American museum presentation of Lalla Essaydi’s most recent body of work, “Les Femmes du Maroc.” Essaydi is a Moroccan born painter, photographer, and installation artist who is now based in New York who has evidently risen to international prominence.
The exhibition opened recently at the deCordova Sculpture Park + Museum in Lincoln, MA and will run through January before moving on to the Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers, NJ.
The deCordova’s luscious brochure says:
“These photographs critique contemporary social structures, but simultaneously confront historical attitudes that have helped in great part to construct past and present representations of Arab women.”
And of the imagery states:
“These women inhabit a place that is literally and entirely circumscribed by text, written directly upon their bodies, apparel, and surroundings by the artist herself. The form of the text is Arabic calligraphy and its substance henna. This juxtaposition of style and material, along with the content of the writing, sets up complex male/ female tensions. In Islamic cultures, until very recently, calligraphy was an art form practiced exclusively by men for the transcription of sacred texts from the Qur’an, the Hadith, and other sacred writings. Henna is traditionally a women’s art—domestic, decorative, ritual, and erotic. And Essaydi’s text is her own, taken from her journals. The elegant conflation of these elements confounds long-held cultural distinctions between men and women, the public and private realms, and the sacred and the mundane. While specifically expressed within an Arab and Muslim context,these ideas easily transcend the particularities of culture through the sheer visual eloquence of the images, and by the very fact that Essaydi has imagined and presented a world of women not at all bounded by men.”
Am breathless viewing these images…