In this new series, the Moroccan-born New York-based artist denounces the violence women were subjected to following the repression of the Arab Spring. A departure from the pleasing aesthetics of the ancient Moroccan palaces of her previous work, Essaydi instead positions her subjects in front of monochromatic tapestries composed of thousands of bullet casings sewn together. Her models almost disappear into their grounds, wearing metallic dresses made of bullet shells that required months of preparation.
Like in Femmes du Maroc, her previous work, Essaydi places her feminine models in poses and compositions that conjure up the odalisques of the 19thcentury Orientalist painting. She inscribed the surface of their bodies with henna calligraphy, a traditional male practice. Her subjects are locked in a defiant gaze.
Essaydi’s art is as much photography-based as it is a documentation of her meticulously executed installations. We sat down with Lalla Essaydi to talk about her work and exhibit, her fourth at Jackson Fine Art.