Of women’s modesty and anger
Rituals, wigs, scarves, make-up and so many other constraints determined the life of women for Centuries, between concealment, unveiling and revealing.
From the inferiority of women’s status in certain of yesterday’s and today’s societies, to the liberation of women, from their dissimulation behind various models of veils and clothes (veil, scarf, abaya, burqa, chadri, haik, hijab, jilbeb, khimar, niqab, chador,…), to the destitution shown in the media: what are the realities and the situations which determined and still determine the relations between society and the feminine body? Since millenniums and in most cultures, women hide certain parts of their body. Is it natural modesty which protects them, signs of respect or constraints imposed by a collectively recognized decency?
More specifically, how do Oriental women live today, towards and against certain prohibitions, beyond the sometimes-simplistic clichés Westerners make of their living conditions? How do they express themselves? How do they see their world and ours; how do we see them? There are so many nuances in the game of the glimpse! The mirror, the Oriental amulets which protect from the evil eye, eyes hidden behind dark glasses or under the netting of a chadri, made up with kohl, shy or provocative; the mysteries of these multiple expressions have fascinated and inspired many artists.
The idea is to evoke modesty, whether it is forced or chosen; this « grace » tinged with fear and shame, politeness and prohibitions, which dictates the behavior of women as soon as they grow up from childhood, whatever culture they come from.
Through this exhibition, the Boghossian Foundation whishes to give an echo to these multiple aspects of the feminine body, by inviting about thirty Eastern and Western artists, in order to express themselves at the Villa Empain.