Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Lalla Essaydi | Les Femmes Du Maroc

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 Essaydi
It'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.

Lalla A. Essaydi currently lives in the United States, where she received her MFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts/TUFTS University. Her work has been exhibited in many major international locales, including Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis, Texas, Buffalo, Colorado, New York, Syria, Ireland, England, France, the Netherlands, Sharjah, U.A.E., and Japan and is represented in a number of collections, including the Williams College Museum of Art, The Art Institute of Chicago, the Fries Museum, the Netherlands, and The Kodak Museum of Art. 

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.