Woman Behind Mashrabiya I

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Woman Behind Mashrabiya I

Edition: artist's proof from an edition of 5 and 1 artist's proof
Egypt, 1997
Photographs
Dye coupler print, face mounted
78 3/4 × 55 1/8 in. (200 × 140 cm) Mount: 82 5/16 × 57 1/16 × 1 1/4 in. (209.07 × 144.94 × 3.18 cm)
Purchased with funds provided by Ann Colgin and Joe Wender, Kelvin Davis, John and Carolyn Diemer, Andy Gordon and Carlo Brandon, Deborah McLeod, and David and Mary Solomon through the 2013 Collectors Committee (M.2013.125)
Not currently on public view

Curator Notes

At first glance, Susan Hefuna’s Woman Behind Mashrabiya I conjures the seemingly distant world of Old Cairo, as captured in vintage photographs and Orientalist paintings....
At first glance, Susan Hefuna’s Woman Behind Mashrabiya I conjures the seemingly distant world of Old Cairo, as captured in vintage photographs and Orientalist paintings. Such settings commonly included a mashrabiya, a wooden window screen that not only circulated fresh air and filtered sunlight but also acted as a kind of architectural veil. Behind the mashrabiya, women could see without being seen, safe from prying eyes and whatever else might lay outside their windows. Here, largely obscured by the deeply cast shadows of the intricately carved window screen, we barely see a woman in full hijab. The tensely structured tectonics of light and shadow give this photograph its strength, but it is the image’s beguiling ambiguity and our own complex reactions to it that make it an exceptional work of art. Hefuna is a multimedia artist who connects to her German and Egyptian roots while building bridges between the two cultures through drawings, sculptures, installations, and video performances.
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Bibliography

  • Komaroff, Linda. Islamic Art Now: Contemporary Art of the Middle East. Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2015.

    View this publication in LACMA's Reading Room

  • Komaroff, Linda. "Islamic Art Now and Then." In Islamic Art: Past, Present, Future, edited by Sheila Blair and Jonathan Bloom, 26-56. New Haven, New York, and London: Yale University Press, 2019.

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