Writing Women: Interview with Lalla Essaydi
Boundaries, now on view at Amelia Johnson Contemporary in Hong Kong, is Moroccan-born artist Lalla Essaydi’s first solo exhibition in Asia. The large-scale photographs feature women covered head-to-toe with Arabic calligraphy, standing or lounging in the settings of 19th century Orientalist paintings. While lifting from this visual tradition, Essaydi’s works maintain a hybrid character. Combining the male-dominated arts of calligraphy, architecture and poetry with the female tradition of henna tattooing, Essaydi addresses the complex identity of Arab women today. Having studied art in the US and lived many years in Saudi Arabia, she denies the notion of a pure Eastern or Western perspective. Last week in Hong Kong, she discussed her recent work and the challenges of being a female Arab artist.