Born in Erfoud, Morocco, in 1966
Ink-jet print, 2/3
120.1 x 179.9 cm
Purchase, the Honourable Charles Lapointe, P.C. Fund, inv. 2014.165
This photograph references Orientalist painting through its re-imagining of the Death of Sardanapalus (1827, Louvre Museum, Paris) by the French Romantic painter Eugène Delacroix. Using contemporary media to evoke Orientalist art through aesthetics and subject matter, Majida Khattari does not reject the artistic tradition but treats it as a launching pad for the creation of a new way of portraying today’s colonial entanglements. Still, Khattari’s photograph draws attention to how in the past, Orientalist artists such as Benjamin-Constant often represented women as ambiguous objects rather than as individualized subjects. As pictorial props, the female bodies here are distorted beneath the chaos of fabric draped around them: a possible metaphor for the way in which Orientalism veiled the realities it claimed to depict.