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  • Lalla Essaydi (Morocco, 1956 – )

    Converging Territories #9

    Incorporated color coupler print
    32 in. x 39 1/4 in.

    Converging Territories is a series of color portraits of women and young girls taken in the artist’s childhood Moroccan home. In this domestic space, Essaydi and females from her family were locked away, sometimes for weeks at a time, for transgressing their permissible roles. Traditionally in Islamic culture, public space is occupied by men, and women are relegated to private, confined spaces. The artist believes that physical thresholds thus define cultural thresholds, and confinement can manifest beyond physical barriers. Essaydi’s portraits reflect this tradition of constraint and, simultaneously, act in silent rebellion against it. The artist uses calligraphy—a sacred Islamic art forbidden to women—and applies it over the body, clothing, and room with henna, an adornment worn and applied only by women. Merging the male tradition of calligraphy with the female art of henna, Essaydi challenges the gender boundaries of Arab culture, giving the womenin her portraits a voice in a space of silence. Lalla Essaydi’s work encompasses the way that space, both actual and metaphorical, can inform aspects of being. Her portraits are not only a reflection of her personal experiences as an Arab woman but are also an examination of how her firsthand encounter with the Western perspective, specifically aspects of Orientalism, have shaped her past, present, and future.
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    Converging Territories #9, 2004-2005
    Lalla Essaydi
    Incorporated color coupler print
    32 in. x 39 1/4 in.
    Gift of Carolyn Eason in memory of Don Eason 2010.009.17

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