|Image © Lalla Essaydi-All Rights Reserved|
"There is some evidence that the Orientalist perspective has had an impact on the actual lives of Arab men and women, and especially that the rules for Arab women became much stricter as a result of Western influence." Lalla EssaydiIt's rare that I feature work that is more art and mixed-media than pure documentary photography, but the interesting fusion of women portraiture, Arabic calligraphy, and henna in Lalla Essaydi's images encouraged me to show her work on my blog.
Moroccan born, Ms. Essaydi sets up her models inspired by 19th century Orientalist paintings, and adds layers of hand-written Arabic calligraphy with henna to the walls and fabrics that her models wear, as well as to their exposed skin. Her decision to merge the calligraphy (traditionally a male-dominated art form) and henna (a feminine occupation, particularly to celebrate weddings and other joyous occasions) is to try to dissolve the restrictions and fluidity of Islamic traditions.
According to her biography, her paintings often appropriate Orientalist imagery from the Western painting tradition, thereby inviting viewers to reconsider the Orientalist mythology. She has worked in numerous media, including painting, video, film, installation, and analog photography.