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Lalla Essaydi

Harem No. 2
From the series "Harem"


Lalla Essaydi
Born in Marrakesh in 1956


Harem No. 2
From the series "Harem"




Chromogenic print, 4/15


85 x 101.6 cm


Purchase, Horsley and Annie Townsend Bequest, inv. 2015.412


Graphic Arts

Lalla Essaydi, a New York-based photographer of Moroccan descent, is known for her reinterpretations of the nineteenth-century Orientalist depictions of women that still influence Western perceptions of the Arab world. By means of a collective and committed performative process – working with friends and members of her family – her postmodern “odalisques” from objects become subjects, invested both metaphorically and physically with a traditional decorative pattern that actually occludes any voyeuristic gaze, thus restoring the subject’s own right to self-expression and representation. Through the striking beauty of her compositions and her models, Essaydi voices Arab women’s will to self-determination while deliberately reclaiming the artistic tradition that originally appealed to the Orientalists.

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