lalla essaydi art

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Lalla essaydi art

In short, I invite the viewer to resist stereotypes. The traditions of Islam exist within spatial boundaries. The presence of men defines public space, the streets, the meeting places. Women are confined to private spaces, the architecture of the homes. Their confinement is a decorative one.

The women, then, become literal with this visual confinement, I recall literal confinements. The house in the photographs is a large, unoccupied house belonging to my extended family. When a young woman disobeyed, stepped outside the permissible space, she was sent to this house. Accompanied by servants, but spoken to by no one, she would spend a month alone. In this silence, women can only be confined visions of femininity.

In photographing women inscribed with henna, I emphasize their decorative role, but subvert the silence of confinement. Furthermore, the calligraphic writing, a sacred Islamic art form, inaccessible to women, constitutes an act of rebellion. In this way, the calligraphy in the images is one of a number of visual signs that carry a double meaning. There is the very different space I inhabit in the West, a space of independence and mobility.

It is from there that I can return to the landscape of my childhood in Morocco, and consider these spaces with detachment and new understanding. The many territories that converge in my work are not only geographical ones but territories of the imagination, shaped, above all, by childhood and memory—by these invisible influences. My work cannot be reduced to Orientalist discourse. Orientalism has given me a lens through which to focus on the converging territories of my work and through which to see more clearly the influence of Western imagination in the Eastern ways of conceptualizing the self.

At a more personal level, my creative practice is a means through which I can reinvent and position myself in different times and cultural contexts. Although I tend to think of my work as, first and foremost, being about the experience of women, I would say that these elements are also significant.

They do not happen incidentally but are part of the inherent qualities that I bring to my vision and my work. Was the education something you expected? LE: I enrolled in the Museum School because I wanted to return to Morocco and be able to pursue my hobby with greater knowledge and skill. I learned that some of the most important things in our lives happen unexpectedly. We take a class in painting and discover an entire new world at our fingertips: waiting to be grasped.

We take a class in painting and find art history, and installation, photography and so much more. We look for a glass of water and find an ocean, calling to us. And we answer the call. I never dreamed I would spend seven years in this environment, immersing myself in everything the School had to offer, and learning more than I had ever imagined was possible.

This was, and is, a school of artists, designed by and for artists: where students are free to choose what they want to learn. It only offers elective modules, and there are no mandatory classes. When we realize the riches that are available, we want to absorb everything. At first I was overwhelmed. I was one of those students who roamed the corridors of the School late at night, peering into the empty rooms, with their silent trappings of whatever medium was taught there.

Eventually, the School taught me a second lesson. With all these opportunities and this great array of artistic riches, with this enormous freedom to choose, comes responsibility. Responsibility first means discipline, and setting priorities, followed by learning new skills and techniques.

And then comes self-direction, as we learn and understand new ways of thinking about art, and the ambition to do something important with our lives. My career offered me something else, something I did not expect. This very public environment offered me a private space, something I had never had at home. It offered me a space where I was free to express my thoughts in private, without the inhibiting knowledge that they were available for all to see. While I knew that creating art is an intensely personal experience, I also learned that it happens only with the help of a lot of gifted and dedicated people: people who teach and guide, people who encourage and nurture, people who inspire you to keep reaching to create what is excellent and beautiful and true.

You can tell, I loved the School. Where did this curiosity and focus come from and sow has it changed over time? LE: My work reaches beyond Islamic culture as it also invokes the Western fascination with the odalisque, the veil, and, of course, the harem as it is expressed in Orientalist painting.

Orientalism has long been a source of fascination for me. My background in art is in painting, and it is as a painter that I began my investigation into Orientalism. And finally, of course, I became aware of the patterns of cultural domination and predatory sexual fantasy encoded in Orientalist painting.

Memarian: Your artworks incorporate multiple layers, a beautiful and colorful layer on the outside, and inviting mixed layers of calligraphy, henna, ceramic, and also models. What is it like to navigate this fine line? Essaydi: It is important for me that my work be beautiful. While it is received very differently in Western and Arab contexts, its aesthetic is appreciated in both. More critical for me, however, is that the photographs achieve a balance between their political, historical and aesthetic content, as well as make a statement on art.

But the fact that I have sometimes been critiqued for, on the one hand, perpetuating expectations and stereotypes rather than refuting them and, on the other, for exposing that which should remain private, indicates that responses to my work are highly subjective, context-specific and likely culturally informed. Nevertheless, with deliberate subtlety, my work introduces alternative, challenging perspectives on canonical 19th-century Orientalist paintings. Through writing, I lay bare personal thoughts, memory, and experiences that belong to me and the women featured as individuals within a broader narrative.

Though my work speaks primarily in terms of Moroccan identity, visual identifiers such as the veil, harem, ornate ornamentation, and sumptuous color also resonate with other regions in the Muslim and Arabic worlds where the place of women has historically been marked by limited expression and constrained individuality.

In volumes upon volumes of text, these women voice critical reflections on and interrogations of memories, all captured within the space of my photographs. At the same time, I write about historical representations of Moroccan, Arabic, Muslim, and African women. To understand my work, then, one must examine long-standing preconceptions held by diverse peoples over time, as well as by myself.

February 3 — April 15, Global Voices stands out as one of the earliest and strongest examples of how media committed to building community and defending human rights can positively influence how people experience events happening beyond their own communities and national borders.

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We take a class in painting and find art history, and installation, photography and so much more. We look for a glass of water and find an ocean, calling to us. And we answer the call. I never dreamed I would spend seven years in this environment, immersing myself in everything the School had to offer, and learning more than I had ever imagined was possible. This was, and is, a school of artists, designed by and for artists: where students are free to choose what they want to learn.

It only offers elective modules, and there are no mandatory classes. When we realize the riches that are available, we want to absorb everything. At first I was overwhelmed. I was one of those students who roamed the corridors of the School late at night, peering into the empty rooms, with their silent trappings of whatever medium was taught there. Eventually, the School taught me a second lesson. With all these opportunities and this great array of artistic riches, with this enormous freedom to choose, comes responsibility.

Responsibility first means discipline, and setting priorities, followed by learning new skills and techniques. And then comes self-direction, as we learn and understand new ways of thinking about art, and the ambition to do something important with our lives.

My career offered me something else, something I did not expect. This very public environment offered me a private space, something I had never had at home. It offered me a space where I was free to express my thoughts in private, without the inhibiting knowledge that they were available for all to see. While I knew that creating art is an intensely personal experience, I also learned that it happens only with the help of a lot of gifted and dedicated people: people who teach and guide, people who encourage and nurture, people who inspire you to keep reaching to create what is excellent and beautiful and true.

You can tell, I loved the School. Where did this curiosity and focus come from and sow has it changed over time? LE: My work reaches beyond Islamic culture as it also invokes the Western fascination with the odalisque, the veil, and, of course, the harem as it is expressed in Orientalist painting. Orientalism has long been a source of fascination for me.

My background in art is in painting, and it is as a painter that I began my investigation into Orientalism. And finally, of course, I became aware of the patterns of cultural domination and predatory sexual fantasy encoded in Orientalist painting. Memarian: Your artworks incorporate multiple layers, a beautiful and colorful layer on the outside, and inviting mixed layers of calligraphy, henna, ceramic, and also models. What is it like to navigate this fine line? Essaydi: It is important for me that my work be beautiful.

While it is received very differently in Western and Arab contexts, its aesthetic is appreciated in both. More critical for me, however, is that the photographs achieve a balance between their political, historical and aesthetic content, as well as make a statement on art. But the fact that I have sometimes been critiqued for, on the one hand, perpetuating expectations and stereotypes rather than refuting them and, on the other, for exposing that which should remain private, indicates that responses to my work are highly subjective, context-specific and likely culturally informed.

Nevertheless, with deliberate subtlety, my work introduces alternative, challenging perspectives on canonical 19th-century Orientalist paintings. Through writing, I lay bare personal thoughts, memory, and experiences that belong to me and the women featured as individuals within a broader narrative. Though my work speaks primarily in terms of Moroccan identity, visual identifiers such as the veil, harem, ornate ornamentation, and sumptuous color also resonate with other regions in the Muslim and Arabic worlds where the place of women has historically been marked by limited expression and constrained individuality.

In volumes upon volumes of text, these women voice critical reflections on and interrogations of memories, all captured within the space of my photographs. At the same time, I write about historical representations of Moroccan, Arabic, Muslim, and African women. To understand my work, then, one must examine long-standing preconceptions held by diverse peoples over time, as well as by myself.

February 3 — April 15, Global Voices stands out as one of the earliest and strongest examples of how media committed to building community and defending human rights can positively influence how people experience events happening beyond their own communities and national borders.

Donate now. Authors, please log in ». Name required. Email will not be published required. Subscribe to comments on this post via email. Submitted addresses will be confirmed by email, and used only to keep you up to date about Global Voices and our mission. See our Privacy Policy for details. Newsletter powered by Mailchimp Privacy Policy and Terms.

Global Voices is supported by the efforts of our volunteer contributors, foundations, donors and mission-related services. For more information please read our Fundraising Ethics Policy. Special thanks to our many sponsors and funders. This site is licensed as Creative Commons Attribution 3. Please read our attribution policy to learn about freely redistributing our work Some Rights Reserved. Written by Omid Memarian. She married after returning to Morocco and moved to Saudi Arabia where she had two children and divorced.

Influenced by her experiences growing up in Morocco and Saudi Arabia, Essaydi explores the ways that gender and power are inscribed on Muslim women's bodies and the spaces they inhabit. She has stated that her work is autobiographical [3] and that she was inspired by the differences she perceived in women's lives in the United States versus in Morocco, in terms of freedom and identity. She stepped outside the permissible behavioral space, as defined by Moroccan culture.

Several pieces of her work including Converging Territories combine henna, which is traditionally used to decorate the hands and feet of brides, with Arabic calligraphy, a predominantly male practice. Yet, by the same token, the male art of calligraphy has been brought into a world of female experience from which it has traditionally been excluded. Henna, however, is extremely symbolic, especially to Moroccan women.

It is an association with familial celebrations of a young girl reaching puberty and transitioning into a mature woman. The use of henna in her work creates a silent atmosphere of the women "speaking" to each other through a quality of femininity.

It is predominantly a painting process where women who are discouraged to work outside the home find a profitable work in applying a tattoo-like material. Les Femmes du Moroc is one of her three major photographic series, which is influenced by nineteenth-century European and American Orientalist art. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Marrakesh , Morocco. Washington Post. Archived from the original on April 2, Feminist Art Base.

Brooklyn Museum. Retrieved 21 February Retrieved 9 March Berkshire Fine Arts. Contemporary Art in the Middle East. London: Black Dog Publishing. ISBN Retrieved Dalhousie French Studies.

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Lalla essaydi art It only offers elective modules, and there are no mandatory classes. She married after returning to Morocco and moved to Saudi Arabia where she had two children and divorced. Her work has been exhibited in many major U. Henna, however, is extremely symbolic, especially to Moroccan women. More critical for me, however, is that the photographs achieve a balance between their political, historical and aesthetic content, as well as make a statement on art. Courbevoie: ACR.
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