About the Photographer
Morroccan, b. 1956
The photographs and the text appearing in them—which was conceived and written by the artist—have an autobiographical element as well. Essaydi grew up in Morocco and spent years in Saudi Arabia before moving to the United States. Morever, the setting for her photographs is a large house in Morocco, belonging to her extended family, where the artist was occasionally sent for punishment as a child if she left the "permissable spaces" available to her as a female. Essaydi sees her personal experience—as an artist, as Moroccan, as Saudi, as traditionalist, as liberal, as Muslim—as multiple lenses through which to consider the complexities of Arab female identity and as a means to resist stereotypes. She describes how she now inhabits a different kind of space than she did as a child—as an Arab woman living in the Western world—while still carrying the house within her as an internalized space of "converging territories." Just as the artist describes the daily life of Muslim women as an ongoing cultural negotiation, her photographs outline a negotiation of their own, between longstanding traditions and a growing culture of Islamic feminism, and between private lives and public expression.
Lalla Essaydi works in a range of media, including photography, video, and painting. She received a BFA from Tufts University, Medford, Massachussetts in 1999 and an MFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and Tufts University in 2003.