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Maker(s):Essaydi, Lalla
Culture:Moroccan, active in Boston (1956- )
Title:Les femmes du Maroc #14 (Women of Morocco)
Date Made:2005
Materials:C41 print mounted on aluminum
Measurements:overall: 34 1/8 in x 40 1/8 in x 1 1/8 in; 86.6775 cm x 101.9175 cm x 2.8575 cm
Accession Number:  AC 2007.13
Credit Line:Purchase with Wise Fund for Fine Arts
Access Restrictions:Currently out for conservation
Museum Collection:  Mead Art Museum at Amherst College

This photograph features an Arab woman looking to the right in front of a wall, with her legs extended sideways to the left. Her right arm is mounted on two pillows for support, and her other hand rests in her lap. Her long curly black hair is gathered in a headband in front of her left shoulder. Her pose refers to Edouard Manet’s Olympia, a renowned nude portrait. She is wearing traditional Moroccan clothing, a Jabadoor, closely resembling a collared long-sleeved dress with pants. The fabric of her garments, the pillows, and the backdrop are white and decorated with Moroccan calligraphy written Henna, an orange-brown paste from a henna tree used to decorate the body in many Middle Eastern and South Asian cultures. Her visible skin, including her face, hands, and legs from calf down, is patterned with the same henna calligraphy. (Skyla Monroe '27; recording by Dania Hallak '24)

Label Text:
Essaydi's photography addresses issues of female identity, challenges the restrictions placed on women in many Arab societies, and criticizes the Orientalist tradition of exoticizing and eroticizing Eastern women. In achieving the latter, Essaydi adapts poses from well-known art historical works. This photograph, for instance, references Edouard Manet's Olympia, one of the most famous paintings of reclining nude women.

The other key to understanding Essaydi's Les femmes du Maroc series lies in the text, which is written directly on the models, their coverings, and the backdrops. Her writing celebrates the beauty of Muslim culture while challenging women's place in it. The text is calligraphy, which is practiced only by men in Essaydi's native Morocco, but it is written in henna, a material associated with women and bodily adornment.

MD, 2013

figures; female; women; portraits; white

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3 Related Media Items

Audio Description_Arabic (2007.13).mp3

Audio Description_EN (2007.13).mp3
Audio Description_Arabic (2007.13).mp3

1 Related Objects

AC 1956.13
Manet, Edouard
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