About the Exhibition

By Design: Theater and Fashion in the Photography of Lalla Essaydi explores the artistic process behind the creation of Essaydi’s carefully staged photographs, which deconstruct and reimagine stereotypes of Muslim womanhood. Guest Curator Cynthia Becker (Associate Professor in the History of Art & Architecture Department at Boston University) has selected approximately 20 works spanning Essaydi’s career for inclusion in this groundbreaking exhibition. Becker notes that, “This is the first time an exhibition has emphasized fashion and staging in Essaydi’s work ...[she] might spend months creating a single garment to be worn in one of her carefully crafted tableaus. She spends hours arranging her models and, in the process, recreates the familial bonds so important to Moroccan women’s lives.”

Born in Morocco, Lalla Essaydi lived in Saudi Arabia for many years and studied painting and photography at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. She currently lives between New York and Morocco. Her time in Morocco also exposed her to the nation’s rich history of architectural design and the ceremonial occasions so important to daily life, both of which are featured in her photographs.

The exhibition will include works from Essaydi’s most important series created over the last twenty years. In her Harem series from 2009, Essaydi photographed women inside a lavish Moroccan palace known as Dar el Basha. She created original Moroccan-style garments for her female models that recreated the intricate mosaic and carved wood patterns that decorated this historically important structure. Lalla Essaydi embraced fashion again in her Harem Revisited series (2012-2013), using antique Moroccan dresses borrowed from the collection of Nour and Boubker Temli. With her series Bullets and Bullets Revisited (2009-2014), Essaydi crafted a richly detailed scene of highly ornate tiles, woodwork, and clothing out of bullet casings. In these glittering photographs, Essaydi comments on the violence that many associate with contemporary Middle Eastern and North African countries. Ironically, Essaydi transformed bullets into sparkling garments and intricate backdrops so that they are no longer recognizable as weaponry, illustrating the sense of tension and ambiguity that makes her photographs so compelling.

This exhibition provides a unique opportunity to appreciate Essaydi’s Moroccan-inspired fashion sense and unique theatrical skills. The works, some of which are very large scale, will be presented in the museum’s Walsh Gallery, and will be accompanied by a full array of complementary programming.

Background Image: Lalla Essaydi (Moroccan, b. 1956), Harem Revisited #31, 2012, chromogenic print. © Lalla Essaydi, Courtesy of the artist and Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

 

 

Browse Artwork

1 / 22
Silence of Thought #2
2 / 22
Converging Territories #2
3 / 22
Converging Territories #9
4 / 22
Converging Territories #24
5 / 22
Les Femmes du Maroc #30
6 / 22
Les Femmes du Maroc: Harem Women Writing
7 / 22
Dancer #10
8 / 22
Dancer #8
9 / 22
Dancer #12
10 / 22
Harem #10
11 / 22
Harem #11
12 / 22
Harem #14c
13 / 22
Harem #31
14 / 22
Bullets #3
15 / 22
Bullets #5
16 / 22
Bullets #6
17 / 22
Harem Revisited #31
18 / 22
Harem Revisited #47
19 / 22
Harem Revisited #51
20 / 22
Bullets Revisited #6
21 / 22
Bullets Revisited #20
22 / 22
Bullets Revisited #38

 

<em>Silence of Thought #2</em>, 2003<br />Chromogenic print mounted to aluminum with UV protective laminate<br />Edition: 15 / 30 x 40 inches
<em>Converging Territories #2</em>, 2003<br />Chromogenic print mounted to aluminum with UV protective laminate<br />Edition: 15 / 40 x 30 inches
<em>Converging Territories #9</em>, 2003<br />Chromogenic print mounted to aluminum with UV protective laminate<br />Edition: 5 / 71 x 88 inches
<em>Converging Territories #24</em>, 2004<br />4 chromogenic prints mounted to aluminum with UV protective laminate<br />Edition: 15 / 30 x 40 inches each
<em>Les Femmes du Maroc #30</em>, 2006<br />Chromogenic print mounted to aluminum with UV protective laminate<br />Edition: 15	/ 30 x 40 inches
<em>Les Femmes du Maroc: Harem Women Writing</em>, 2008<br />Chromogenic print mounted to aluminum with UV protective laminate<br />Edition: 15 / 20 x 24 inches
<em>Dancer #10</em>, 2009<br />Chromogenic print mounted to aluminum with UV protective laminate<br />Edition: 15 / 24 x 20 inches
<em>Dancer #8</em>, 2009<br />Chromogenic print mounted to aluminum with UV protective laminate<br />Edition: 15 / 24 x 20 inches
<em>Dancer #12</em>, 2009<br />Chromogenic print mounted to aluminum with UV protective laminate<br />Edition: 15 / 24 x 20 inches
<em>Harem #10</em>, 2009<br />Chromogenic print mounted to aluminum with UV protective laminate<br />Edition: 15 / 30 x 40 inches
<em>Harem #11</em>, 2009<br />3 chromogenic prints mounted to aluminum with UV protective laminate<br />Edition: 10 / 60 x 48 inches each
<em>Harem #14C</em>, 2009<br />Chromogenic print mounted to aluminum with UV protective laminate<br />Edition: 5 / 88 x 71 inches
<em>Harem #31</em>, 2009<br />Two chromogenic prints mounted to aluminum with UV protective laminate<br />Edition: 15 / 40 x 30 inches each
Bullets #3
<em>Bullets #5</em>, 2009<br />Chromogenic print mounted to aluminum with UV protective laminate<br />Edition: 15 / 30 x 40 inches
<em>Bullets #6</em>, 2009<br />Chromogenic print mounted to aluminum with UV protective laminate<br />Edition: 15 / 40 x 30 inches
<em>Harem Revisited #31</em>, 2012<br />Chromogenic print mounted to aluminum with UV protective laminate<br />Edition: 15 / 30 x 40 inches
<em>Harem Revisited #47</em>, 2012<br />3 chromogenic prints mounted to aluminum with UV protective laminate<br />Edition: 15 / 40 x 30 inches each
<em>Harem Revisited #51</em>, 2013<br />Chromogenic print mounted to aluminum with UV protective laminate<br />Edition: 15 / 30 x 40 inches
<em>Bullets Revisited #6</em>, 2012<br />Chromogenic print mounted to aluminum with UV protective laminate<br />Edition: 15 / 40 x 30 inches
<em>Bullets Revisited #20</em>, 2013<br />chromogenic print mounted to aluminum with UV protective laminate<br />Edition: 10 / 48 x 60 inches
<em>Bullets Revisited #38</em>, 2014<br />Chromogenic print mounted to aluminum with UV protective laminate<br />Edition: 10 / 48 x 60 inches

All works are by © Lalla Essaydi (Moroccan, b. 1956) and are presented courtesy of the artist and Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

Audio Guide: Selected Works

Fairfield University Art Museum · By Design: Theater and Fashion in the Photography of Lalla Essaydi

 

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All events will be livestreamed at thequicklive.com. Click below to register for reminders.

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Opening Night Virtual Lecture: By Design: Theater and Fashion in the Photography of Lalla Essaydi

Thursday, January 28, 6 p.m.
Cynthia Becker, Associate Professor of African Art History, History of Art & Art Department, Boston University
Part of the Edwin L. Weisl, Jr. Lectureships in Art History, funded by the Robert Lehman Foundation

Virtual Lecture: Lalla Essaydi and the Art of Costume

Wednesday, March 10, 5 p.m.
Julie Learson, Costumier, Theatre Fairfield

Virtual Family Day: Color and Pattern in the Islamic World

Saturday, April 10
Registration required

Lecture: Women, Status, and the Family Code in Morocco

Tuesday, April 20, 5 p.m.
Silvia Marsans-Sakly, Assistant Professor, Islamic World, Department of History

Art in Focus: Lalla Essaydi, Harem Revisited #31, 2012, chromogenic print

Thursday, May 20, 11 a.m.
Michelle DiMarzo, Curator of Education and Academic Engagement

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