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Les Femmes du Maroc no. 21B, 2006 Chromogenic Print On Aluminum 152 X 121 Cm, Ed. Of 15 © Courtesy of the artist & Amelia Johnson Contemporary

g/f 6-10 Shin Hing Street
(off Hollywood Road)
Central, Hong Kong

March 7th, 2013 - April 6th, 2013
Opening: March 7th, 2013 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM

hong kong
+852 2548 2286


Amelia Johnson Contemporary is proud to present Boundaries, Lalla Essaydi’s first solo

exhibition in Asia.


Essaydi’s international career as an artist has encompassed painting, mixed media,

photography and video. Boundaries features a carefully curated collection of

Essaydi’s works which pose a contemporary reflection on an iconography that

stretches at least as far back as the Orientalist imagery of nineteenth century artists

such as Ingres, Delacroix and Gérôme. Moroccan women are swathed in sumptuous

fabrics covered in Islamic calligraphy – writing, applied in henna, which adorns their

skin, robes and the interiors they occupy. The studied confusion of body and environment

address the complex issue of female identity from a unique, personal and

regional perspective.


Essaydi was raised in Morocco, educated in Europe and the United States and spent

many years living in Saudi Arabia. She completed studies at the L’Ecole des Beaux

Arts in Paris before receiving her BFA (1999) and MFA (2003) from the School of the

Museum of Fine Arts and Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts. In her work she

returns to her Moroccan past by placing her subjects within architectural settings

linked both to her own personal history and the histories, traditions and belief systems

of Islam. The blending of body and object in each series operates on a decorative

level, but more acutely as a subversive means of questioning, validating and recording

feminine identities and how they are perceived.


The artist acknowledges that both herself and her work are shaped and distorted as

much by her Eastern heritage as her Western experiences. Using only analog film and

cameras, Essaydi photographs are painstakingly choreographed in staged scenes

appropriated from well-known, 19th-century European and American Orientalist

paintings. In this way she acknowledges Western influences, but simultaneously

encourages a re-consideration of iconography associated with such scenes.

In oscillating between Western and Eastern ideology, as well as between the past

and present, Essaydi articulates how identity can be understood not by characteristics

peculiar to a linear conception of self, but by an amalgam of varying influences.

Her work serves as a visual metaphor for this continual negotiation of shifting and

converging boundaries.