Lalla Essaydi (Moroccan, B. 1956)
Lots are subject to 5% import Duty on the importat… Read more
Lalla Essaydi (Moroccan, B. 1956)

Harem #16

Details
Lalla Essaydi (Moroccan, B. 1956)
Harem #16
signed, titled, dated and numbered 'Lalla Essaydi HAREM#16, 2009 Print number 1 from an edition of 5' (on a label affixed to the reverse)
chromogenic print mounted on aluminium with UV protective laminate
71 x 88in. (180.5 x 223.5cm.)
Executed in 2009, this work is number one from an edition of five
Special notice

Lots are subject to 5% import Duty on the importation value (low estimate) levied at the time of collection shipment within UAE. For UAE buyers, please note that duty is paid at origin (Dubai) and not in the importing country. As such, duty paid in Dubai is treated as final duty payment. It is the buyer's responsibility to ascertain and pay all taxes due.

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Lot Essay

By alluding to the rich practice of calligraphy and interweaving it with the traditional art of henna, Lalla Essaydi questions the Western Orientalist heritage through her lens. In Harem #16, the woman is in a reclining position alike an odalisque, camouflaged into the intricate patterns of the walls of the historical Dar el Basha Palace in Marrakech. She becomes part of the space, but as she is confidently gazing at the viewer, she emerges from her surroundings as if demanding to be seen and acknowledged.

Lalla Essaydi's oeuvre is not only an expression of her personal history growing up as an Arab woman; it goes beyond the sphere of the Arab world to reveal on the life of Arab women in general. Her photographs become metaphors of the countless contradictions she has encountered between hierarchy and fluidity, between women and men, between private and public, between the richness and the confining aspects of the Islamic culture. Through a highly ornamented mise-en-scène reminiscing that of works by the 19th century painters Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres or Eugène Delacroix, the artist deconstructs the fantasised portrayal of the oriental woman and hence empowers her. She rethinks the Western historical perception of the East and challenges stereotypes, yet her work is not a critique of either culture but rather a feminist approach on the role of women.

In the present work Harem #16, Lalla Essaydi enhances the aesthetic appeal of what are essentially clichés of the East seen through the lens of Western desire. She invites the viewer to become aware of Orientalism as a projection of the fantasies of Western artists and to fully grasp the complexity of the Arab female identity.

'My photographs are the story of my quest to find my own voice, the unique voice of an artist, not an attempt to present myself as a victim, which would deprive me of the very complexity I wish to express. (...) My work reaches beyond Islamic culture to invoke the Western fascination, as expressed in painting, with the odalisque, the veil and of course the harem. (...) It is not only the West that has been prevented from seeing Arab culture accurately. How people in the Arab world see themselves has also been affected by the distorted lens of Orientalism. There is some evidence that the Orientalist perspective has had an impact on the actual lives of Arab men and women.'
(Lalla Essaydi, 2011)
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