Lalla Essaydi Exhibition - Beyong Beauty

Kashya Hildebrand
Dec 7, 2013 12:58PM

Kashya Hildebrand London is proud to present Lalla Essaydi’s retrospective exhibition, Beyond Beauty, spanning five major bodies of work from 2003 to 2012. Currently based in the USA, Essaydi returns to her Moroccan girlhood through her work. She uses photography intersected with an array of artistic media and practices extending from installation to calligraphy and henna painting in her attempt to challenge Orientalist readings of Arab female identity. Through her combined use of space, calligraphy, henna and costume, Essaydi explores the function of women as decorative features within the context of vernacular architecture. Seeking to challenge our notions of history, gender, architecture and culture and the role that women inhabit in traditional Orientalist fantasies within them, Essaydi uses the recurrent iconography of the harem, which she deconstructs in her attempt to provide a revised reading of archetypical conceptions. The area of the harem corresponds to the private portion of the house, meant to accommodate the everyday life of the family’s female members and prevent encounters with men alien to the family. This very physical and psychological environment of the home and harem haunts the artist, in the sense that it constitutes the space and the culture of her childhood within her.

Kashya Hildebrand
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