Culture and traditional believes among people across the globe play a seminal role in the way people associates relate and treats one another in our societies. Men and women from different spheres of the world interact differently with regards to the tradition from which they come from and believe in. Some traditional cultures are meant deliberately to favor one gender and prevent the opposite gender form questioning what they feel is not in order while others are intended to fit what moral standards demands. In most cultures, men are considered as the head, and hence they are given priority at the expense of the female gender. Therefore, essential matters such as leadership, decision making among other issues affecting both genders are influenced by the male gender. The Islamic tradition is one of the myths where the voice of a woman is given limited opportunity. According to their culture and tradition, the male gender dominates the public sphere, and the female gender is considered as the house caretakers and that women should stay inside.
Women are expected to spend time indoors and take care of essential matters including cooking, taking care of men and children and maintaining the house hygiene. However, women after realizing this as a form of discrimination of the highest order started to raise their voice and advocating for equality through many ways. Education played an integral role in the realization of gender equality in societies of this nature where women came to realize that they are capable of doing anything just like men. Some of the Educated and talented elites such as Lalla Essaydi started this extended wartime ago. In this context, the research aims to focus on Lalla Essaydi a Moroccan female artist paying close attention to her artistic works as well as the message behind her photographic works. The paper will further discuss female-related issues including Orientalism and neo-orientalism in her artwork. Furthermore, the research goals to connect Lalla Essaydi's work to other artists such as Sheiren Nashat about their artworks particularly where both artists use female body to convey specific messages.
Over the last decade, Islamic cultures such as the one depicted in the introduction section of this paper have received attacks by multiple critics mainly from the west part of the globe. The attacks were encountered by movements from the Middle East and the west by artists, novelists, and filmmakers as well as the poets among many others parts who have made multiple trials to articulate identity theme in their works. The parts have also significantly contributed in their practices to find means on how the Muslim cultures and ways of life have facilitated and provided ample time to reason and reconsider matters affecting the identity formations in the modern global world. The cultural critics have not only focused on the political and economic aspects/ theories but also with extension; they have considered the daily representation of life, marriages, motherhood, family relationships among several other quotidian issues among the Muslim communities.
Lalla Essaydi A Female Artist
Focusing on Lalla Essaydi, a Moroccan artist based in the New York currently, despite the fact that she is the personification of multicultural identity. Her home country is Morocco where she was raised in her childhood after relocating to Saudi Arabia and spent several years. She then proceeded to Europe for her education after which she moved to the current resident in the United States of America. Lalla Essaydi was influenced by life experiences in her home country Morocco and Saudi Arabia. The female artist explores the manner in which power and gender on the bodies of Muslim female and the space they inhabit. She represents the voice of women in Muslim community through her talent and profession as an artist. This is one of the factors that have contributed to the choice of this research paper. The artist makes photographic, mixed media and other works those goals at re-examining Orientalist cultural and female stereotypes as well as the Islamic perception of Middle East women.
According to Hall &Stuart (P. 110) Essaydi has achieved her international fame for her portraits of the female in Islamic cultures; challenges the stereotypical western depictions of women residing in harems and questions the obstacles imposed on Arabs women. Focusing on one of her photographs, a female lies on a divan and reclines as if an odalisque in a painting in the culture of the 19th century European Orientalists. The artwork is immersed in Arabic calligraphy written with sepia henna dye. The script covers the following items: women dress, women face the fabric the bed and her body absorbing her within the space to which the lady is confined. Lalla Essaydi's idea of artwork came as a result of the western culture that is packed with stereotypical depictions of Arabic female who lives in harems. The artist personifies the strengthening connection and links two significant regions in the globe namely the Middle Eastern and African art scenes amidst developing cultures between these regions.
Additionally, Lalla Essaydi's photographs are concerned with female subjects' participation and contribution towards the fight against the predicament where Muslim women are considered as good as housekeepers with limited freedom of movement. Her artwork further conveys firm massages to the rest of her audience outside the globe a rich tradition concerning relationships, practices as well ideas that were misrepresented and misunderstood by the westerners. She designs photographs whose primary purpose is to deal with the emancipation against the limited environment of the female within the traditions of the Muslims. Where in her work she has prioritized and valued the lives of women and children in the Muslim community.
Following the Muslim traditions, the streets are set aside as men's domain where ladies re condemned to live behind closed doors. According to Lalla Essaydi, Women are considered as nothing other than decorations a situation she vividly represents and intends to adjust within and without the Muslim territories. In her sample artworks, Essaydi places Islamic female in a separated environment and decorates the female isolation with colored massages demanding for freedom for women and seeking their voices to be had. Through this freedom, they could associate with one another and speak to space. The resisting nature of her photographs is amplified by the fact that within the Islam handwriting cannot be practiced by the female.
Converging Territories #30 is a pictorial representation photographed in a house full of women and young girls whose origin is the artist family. The content of this photograph includes Essaydi where she was confined for being disobedient as a child. Women and children are seen locked up in the house sometimes for as long as a week when they could act in disregard of the Muslim rules and regulations. Concerning the Converging Territory#30, Lalla Essaydi turns the enclosed space into something more significant than the delimited enclosures of that house of her childhood through her artworks. Her works contributed to the better positions occupied by the female in the Muslim society and the entire world at large. Despite the cultural perspective that women are the weak vessels to be taken care of by the male gender and that they can stay best indoors. Lalla through her works has contributed the best cultural practices as well as improving the relationship between the male and female gender in the society particularly among the Muslim communities who initially believed that female belongs to the house. Today, women are competing favorably in all area with the male gender, and they have proved to be as productive as men. Her works represent the voice of women in the society.
Orientalism and Neo-Orientalism in Lalla Essaydi's Artwork
The term orientalism refers to the artifacts, styles, and characteristics considered belonging to the peoples and the cultures of Asia. It encompasses a stereotyped representation of Asia that regards as incarnating a colonialist attitude. On the other hand, Neo- orientation term is often used to explain modern incarnations of Orientalists thinking. In her works, Lalla Essaydi presents herself through multiple lenses. She introduces herself as an artist, a Muslim, as Moroccan and a traditionalist as well as a liberal.
First, Lalla Essaydi presents herself as an artist because she attended her university where she attained her success as an artist. Essaydi further originates from Morocco as her home country in which her religious background is Islamic. Furthermore, Essaydi comes from an African country termed as Morocco where in Africa, people are brought up under the influence of traditional beliefs and Africans tend to follow certain cultural believes that existed from the beginning. Her works invite the audience/ viewers to resist some forms of stereotypes and discrimination, especially against the female gender. She exposes the traditions and complex beliefs and challenges of many Muslim females residing in the west. Lalla Essaydi photographic works offer a feminist critique of Orientalism utilizing the representation of Muslim female seditious veil of chirography.
According to (Zararsiz &Pinar) her work is a reflection of the global hybridity of the modern art, showing Lalla's multicultural experience being a representative from an in-between space. According to Homi Bhabhi, a cultural theorist, in Essaydi's location is a person can begin to question the beliefs nastiness, identity as well as collective self. Cultural Hybridity in her works as an artist is fully expressed in the female body including the surrounding space within the enclosed room in a house. This is because; the artist aims at reflecting on the purpose of the places about her own identity. Her childhood space in North America as well as her adulthood experience in other spatial dimensions. Several personalities right from the female to the eastern and western converging into herself. The theory of Orientalism is at the central position to the conceptualization of Lalla's experience. Taking Orientalism into art alongside with female studies, women, as depicted in Orientalist art collecting the harem, inspired work of over 150 orientalist artists with Lalla Essaydi being one of the most celebrated through her paintings, artworks, and photographs. The message contained in her works as an artist summarizes orientalism fully.
Essaydi in her artistic works talks back at the 19th-century orientalist; she addresses the states of Islamic females and at the same time returning western regard from the concept of east and west. Her works involve the mixture of writing, painting, and photography where her compositions tend to ideas from the orientalism poses. The western knowledge of orientalist women was built upon the orientalist raises .however, in her works, Lalla overturned the sign by the application of Arabic beautiful handwritings ton the bodies and garments of the female models hence allowing a re-reading of the formulaic conception/ stereotypes.
Lalla Essaydi artistic works versus Shirin Nashat artistic works.
Shirin Nashat artworks encompass photographic series. In her works, she attempts to examine the complexities of female's identity in between the alternating cultural landscape in the Middle East. Artworks by Nashat tend to serve the same purpose with that of Essaydi. However, there are some observable differences between in their artistic works. In Nashat's artworks, their background looks quite clear as compared to the background of the photographs and other artworks by Lalla Essaydi. The composition is defined by the hard edge of the black chador....
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