Moroccan-born, New York-based photographer Lalla Essaydi (b. 1956) explores issues surrounding the role of women in Arab culture and their representation in the western European artistic tradition. Her large-scale photographs are based on nineteenth-century Orientalist paintings, but work to subvert those stereotyped and sexualized representations. Aside from their timely and provocative subject matter, Essaydi’s photographs are technically impressive. Behind each of her images is weeks of preparation, as the text is composed, the fabrics are dyed to match the setting in which they will appear, and the architectural backdrops are carefully constructed. The entire field of the almost life-size photographs appears in sharp focus, the result of her use of a large-format camera and traditional film.

Lalla Essaydi: Photographs includes ten works from three different series—Les Femmes du Maroc, Harem, and Bullets Revisited—presented in spaces throughout the museum. One group will be shown in the gallery dedicated to contemporary art, while others will be shown in the context of the Museum’s Permanent Collection: alongside examples of historic Middle Eastern tilework and calligraphy; with related European paintings; and as part of the discourse of Modern art.

This exhibition is accompanied by related programs including an Artist Talk on Saturday, March 28. Admission to Lalla Essaydi: Photographs and all special exhibitions is free for Museum members.
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ABOVE: Lalla Essaydi, Les Femmes du Maroc-La Sultane, 2008. Chromogenic Print. ©Lalla Essaydi/Courtesy Jenkins Johnson Gallery, San Francisco and Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York.
The San Diego Museum of Art Celebrates 100 Years of Art in Balboa Park has been made possible by the generous support of Presenting Sponsor Conrad Prebys and Debbie Turner.
SUPPORT FOR the exhibition Lalla Essaydi: Photographs is provided by Dr. Laurie Mitchell and Mr. Brent Woods, Ms. Marjorie A. Mopper, Members of The San Diego Museum of Art, and the County of San Diego Community Enhancement Program. Institutional support for the Museum is provided by the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture.
All photographs © Lalla Essaydi/Courtesy Jenkins Johnson Gallery, San Francisco & Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York.