Marja-Leena Rathje
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Lalla Essaydi

Lalla Essaydi
Converging Territories # 30, 2004
47 x 57 1/2" chromogenic print

I've just been looking at and getting excited by Moroccan-born artist Lalla Essaydi's Converging Territories, a series of large-format colour portraits of women and children in Morocco, now showing in New York.

These are very compelling images because the photographer revisits the house she used to be confined in, and "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." She has also wrapped them in the same cloth, so walls, floor and figures are equally covered in her "stream-of-consciousness diary".

These works blew me away and spun me back to the time when I was working on my Veils Suite series of prints, which frequently portray wrapped figures. Another interesting connection is that one of my works was based on an Irving Penn photograph of Guedra women in Morocco.

Thanks to another artist-blogger, Gregg Chadwick of Speed of Life for bringing Lalla Essaydi's work to my attention. Do read his observations and quotes for more about her.

UPDATE 26th May: There's a short but good review also at Modern Kicks, with a mention of yours truly, thank you!

Marja-Leena | 19/05/2005 | 3 comments
themes: Other artists, Photography


Holy hell. Amazing.

Absolutely fascinating work. Thanks for showing it to us.

I am so glad that Lalla's work speaks to you so deeply. Amazing and important art. Thanks for the comments about my site. It has been a pleasure getting to know your site and artwork as well.