Middle Eastern Art- Kathryn Anderson ec

I really enjoyed the lecture on Middle Eastern Art and Diaspora.  Focusing on Middle Eastern woman in the middle east seems like it would be a contradiction given the fact that their right to communicate and express themselves is so limited.  Learning about these woman and the various ways they attempted to connect with their culture or distance themselves was very influential to me.  They could either let their status as an Iranian or a Pakestani woman be all that they were or it was just a portion of their identity and what their art meant. 

Shirin Neshat Her work as an artist truly combines the most potent aspects of her culture and creates strong, violent messages that express the stunted, disjointed ways in which woman have been allowed to communicate themselves.  I enjoyed seeing a picture of the artist while we looked at her art because it helped me visualize the process. I realize that this method may not work for everyone but I think seeing her face contributes work she makes.  The common theme through out Neshat’s work is writing on woman’s bodies and than having them hold or touch in some way a weapon, gun or various other objects.  Because her audience is intended for Westerners, the words in Nechat’s work contribute overwhelmingly to the affect of the exotic.  It does not matter what the hands holding the gun say, or what the feet up righting the gun say, The Arabic letters portray the messages of fear, confinement, and silence.  There woman have so much express that writing them on the woman’s hands while they are confined to silence.

In addition to her images with Arabic letters and weaponry, Shirin Neshat also produces the video Turbulent.  The film depicts two separate singers.  They are in separate auditoriums; the man faces the stage and has people there to listen to him while he wears a white shirt.  The woman has her back to the stage, without an audience and wears black.  Both sing the song traditionally song by men only.  Shirin Neshat’s friend sings the song but layers her voice at various points so her voice and mouth do not line up causing friction.  The video makes it clear that woman should be considered equal to men and they are not just bystanders any longer.

Jananne Al-Ani, an artist based in London who is half-Iraqi and half-Irish. She decided to depict five women, all related to her in various stages of head and face covering. When we see the woman’s legs so bare and exposed it seems so uncommon that its quite shocking.  Having her legs completely bare was a direct contradiction to one of the other woman who was completely cover with barely her eyes exposed.

Another work that I was really impressed by and felt connected to was the Keffief by Mona Hatoum.  I thought that the addition of human hair to the headscarf was telling of all that it holds and keeps away.  The headscarf holds back the beauty of woman.  Of course if a woman wears the scarf and feels beautiful that is completely up to her but there is an element of constriction that I think is portray in a clever way through weaving the hair into the piece.

A theme that I have seen blossom throughout Hatoum’s work is sensitivity.  With one different move or material the whole piece would be wrong or .  An example within Haoum’s work are the glass grenades.  We looked at the grenades and at first they seem shiny and pristine.  Than as the viewer moves in to realize that they are grenades the whole mood changes.  These deadly weapons look friendly almost, but again they are grenades.  The glass aspect is a reminder that they are breakable and fragile and can inflict pain when broke.

Overall I take a lot of influence from these woman.  They have produced art in a time and under conditions that would usually disallow for such.  Although all of them no not live in their native land, forced out through war or a crime their lives were torn apart from it.  They had to adapt to say afloat.  There art has been an outlet for them and an outlet for the Western to see how hate and war have torn up that part of the country letting their people blow up to any other location all over the world waiting to go home.

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