Lalla Essaydi


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escapeintolife-lessadi3Les Femmes du Maroc – Harem Women Writing

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escapeintolife lessaydi4Les Femmes du Maroc – The Grand Odalisque

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escapeintolife lessaydi7Les Femmes du Maroc – Harem Beuaty

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escapeintolife lessaydi9Les Femmes du Maroc – Reclining Odalisque


About the Artist

Lalla Essaydi drains the paintings of color, removes all male figures, drapes the women and all surfaces in white fabric, and sets everything within a shallow stage-like space. All visible surface -backdrops, floor, drapery, skin — are inscribed with Arabic calligraphy. These texts are subversive on several levels. In Islamic cultures calligraphy is a male art form, used primarily to transcribe the Q’uran and other sacred literature; however, in Essaydi’s work, the texts – musings on personal freedom, cultural and individual identity, memory and communication taken from her personal journals – are applied with henna, a tradition associated with women. Her transformations of the original paintings reverberate with the historical past while revealing the colonial and gendered perspectives of historic and contemporary Orientalism.

Lalla Essaydi’s photographic portraits capture a truly feminine spirituality, solitude and purity. Her subjects are always dressed in ghost like white, white being the colour worn by Moroccan women whilst in mourning. She photographs these women in relaxed poses reminiscent of a bygone era, similar to the 18th century orientalist artists who were fascinated with exposing the veiled women of the Harem. Lalla Essaydi’s work continues to expose to the western mind the mystery that surrounds the rituals of Muslim women in the present day.

Lalla Essaydi Bio

Lalla Essaydi Interview

Lalla Essaydi at Lisa Sette Gallery

posted by Carmelita Caruana