Magazine article Artforum International

Lalla Essaydi: Howard Yezerski Gallery

Magazine article Artforum International

Lalla Essaydi: Howard Yezerski Gallery

Article excerpt

Moroccan-born, New York-based photographer Lalla Essaydi lures the viewer into her third solo show at Howard Yezerski Gallery (the inaugural exhibition in its new space) with a pair of stunning large scale pictures hung in the front window. Each depicts an Arab woman covered in calligraphy and posed to imitate a famous nineteenth-century Orientalist painting. Fumee d'Ambre Gris (The Smoke of Ambergris), 2008, which features a young woman lifting her white veil to draw in the titular aphrodisiac, is based on Sargent's 1880 painting of the same name. The Grande Odalisque, 2008, in parodying Ingres's famous painting of a nude girl languishing in a Turkish harem, also critiques Western exploitation of Eastern women. In her contemporary version, Essaydi rejects the distorted, dreamy, and nude portrayal found in Ingres's "gentleman's" painting, instead creating a realistic, clothed figure: a strongwilled woman who challenges the viewer to respect her and her domestic setting. Born and raised in Morocco, where only men are allowed to practice calligraphy, Essaydi rebelliously inscribes her female subjects with Arabic script, taking photographs that, showing flesh, burkas, and backgrounds completely covered in henna, comment on female identity and on the restrictions suffered by many Arab women.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Inside the main gallery, Essaydi resurrected Embodiment, a 2003 installation made up, in this incarnation, of ten photographic portraits digitally transferred onto white banners, and a short video. Shot inside and around her home in Morocco, the four-minute video intersperses sequences of the same still images that are printed on the banners with narrative footage about a Moroccan girl transitioning into young adulthood and taking on the traditional dress and restrictions of her culture. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.