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Indepth Arts News:

"Lalla Essaydi: Converging Territories"
2005-01-06 until 2005-02-26
Laurence Miller Gallery
New York, NY, USA United States of America

Laurence Miller Gallery takes pleasure in presenting Converging Territories, the first New York one-person show of Moroccan-born artist Lalla Essaydi. Converging Territories is a series of large-format color portraits of women and children taken in a large, unoccupied, family-owned house in Morocco, the same house that as a young woman Essaydi was confined to for a month at a time whenever she transgressed her permissible roles.

Revisiting that house, Essaydi creates a mysterious and timeless space with a cloth background, entirely covered with Islamic calligraphy that she herself has written in henna. She then painstakingly covers the women and children with henna before photographing them in front of the cloth. Essaydi's intent is to explore cultural patterns within both Arab and Western societies, to reach beyond stereotypes, and to convey her own experience as an Arab woman. She states: "Through these images I am able to suggest the complexity of Arab female identity - as I have known it - and the tension between hierarchy and fluidity at the heart of Arab culture."

Representative of the show is Converging Territories #21, a four-part sequence showing the progression from childhood to womanhood and from public to private identity. Converging Territories #29 shows a single woman, completely hidden except for one foot covered in henna, about to step into the background. Converging Territories #10 shows the artist from behind, seated on the henna-covered cloth while writing in calligraphy. After a childhood spent in Morocco , Lalla Essaydi spent many years in Saudi Arabia , where she began her basic art education. She attended the L'Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris during the early 1990's, then received her BFA from Tufts University in 1999. In 2003, she received her MFA from Tufts University/The School of the Museum of Fine Arts , Boston .

Essaydi's photographs are currently on exhibit at The Art Institute of Chicago in About Face, in NAZAR: Photographs from the Arab World, presented by the Noorderlicht Foundation, Holland , and at Williams College Museum in In the Company of Women. The DeCordova Museum in Lincoln , Massachusetts , will exhibit a selection from Converging Territories in their Annual Exhibition this summer. In conjunction with the current exhibition at Laurence Miller Gallery, powerHouse Books will publish an illustrated monograph under the same title, and Aperture will publish a portfolio of images in February.

Converging Territories # 9, 2004
33 1/4 x 40 3/4"
chromogenic print

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