Lalla Essaydi

Les Femmes du Maroc #22B, 2005

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Chromogenic print
40.0 x 30.0 in (101.6 x 76.2 cm)
1 of 15
Signed certificate


This work ships from Chicago, IL, US.


Lalla Essaydi’s photographs challenge longstanding Islamic traditions as well as the practice of visually objectifying women throughout the history of art. Essaydi often revisits her childhood by returning to a house in Morocco that belongs to her extended family to use as the setting for her photographs. In covering the women and walls in calligraphy—which is considered a sacred Islamic artform and not immediately accessible to women—Essaydi pushes against traditional social boundaries and dynamics. The calligraphy covers every inch of the surface of skin and wall and is applied with henna, a decorative practice that is considered “women’s work,” further commenting on the artist’s subversive effort of breaking with tradition and stereotypical gender roles. In addition, the title of this series is a response to Eugène Delacroix’s Les Femmes d’Algere (1834), a painting the French Romantic artist created after visiting Algeria shortly after the French conquest. Essaydi’s photographs are often modeled after various paintings by Western male artists, not only Delacroix but others such as Jean-Aguste-Dominique Ingres and Gustave Courbet.

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About Lalla Essaydi

Moroccan painter and photographer, born 1956, active in Boston