All about photo.com: photo contests, photography exhibitions, galleries, photographers, books, schools and venues.
Lalla Essaydi
Lalla Essaydi

Lalla Essaydi

Country: Morocco
Birth: 1956

Lalla Essaydi (Lalla A. Essaydi) is a Moroccan-born photographer known for her staged photographs of Arab women in contemporary art. She currently works in Boston, Massachusetts, and Morocco. Her current residence is in New York. Essaydi was born in Marrakesh, Morocco in 1956. She left to attend high school in Paris at 16. She married after returning to Morocco and moved to Saudi Arabia where she had two children and divorced. Essaydi returned to Paris in the early 1990s to attend the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts. She moved to Boston in 1996 and earned her BFA from Tufts University in 1999 and her MFA in painting and photography from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in 2003.

Influenced by her experiences growing up in Morocco and Saudi Arabia, Essaydi explores the ways that gender and power are inscribed on Muslim women's bodies and the spaces they inhabit. She has stated that her work is autobiographical and that she was inspired by the differences she perceived in women's lives in the United States versus in Morocco, in terms of freedom and identity. She explores a wide range of perspectives, including issues of diaspora, identity, and expected location through her studio practice in Boston. She also looks at the ways of viewing reality while questioning limits of other cultures and challenging Orientalist art, engaging tradition, history, art, and technology. Her Grand Odalisque from the series Les Femmes du Maroc (2008), for example, cites the French painter Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres' painting La Grande Odalisque (1814), although her model is dressed. She also presents the resistance of stereotypes maintained by Western and Eastern societies. The inspiration for many of her works came from her childhood, in the physical space where she, as a young woman, was sent when she disobeyed. She stepped outside the permissible behavioral space, as defined by Moroccan culture. Essaydi said her works will become haunted by spaces she inhabited as a child.

Several pieces of her work (including Converging Territories) combine henna, which is traditionally used to decorate the hands and feet of brides, with Arabic calligraphy, a predominantly male practice. While she uses henna to apply calligraphy to her female subjects' bodies, the words are indecipherable in an attempt to question authority and meaning. According to Essaydi, "Although it is calligraphy that is usually associated with 'meaning' (as opposed to 'mere' decoration), in the visual medium of my photographs, the 'veil' of henna, in fact, enhances the expressivity of the images. Yet, by the same token, the male art of calligraphy has been brought into a world of female experience from which it has traditionally been excluded." The women depicted in her exhibition of photographs, Les Femmes du Maroc, are represented as decorative and confined by the art of henna. Essaydi thus poses her subjects in a way that exemplifies society's views of women as primarily destined for mere beauty. Henna, however, is extremely symbolic, especially to Moroccan women. It is an association with familial celebrations of a young girl reaching puberty and transitioning into a mature woman. The use of henna in her work creates a silent atmosphere of the women "speaking" to each other through a quality of femininity. It is predominantly a painting process where women who are discouraged to work outside the home find a profitable work in applying a tattoo-like material. Beyond creating powerful pieces revolving around the art of henna, Essaydi includes interpretations of traditional Moroccan elements, including draped folds of cloths adorning women's bodies, mosaic, tiles, and Islamic architecture.

Lalla Essaydi’s photo series, Les Femmes du Maroc comments on contemporary social structures, as well as acknowledges the history that has aided in constructing representations of Arab female identity. Les Femmes du Maroc is one of her three major photographic series, which is influenced by nineteenth-century European and American Orientalist art. However, Essaydi appropriates Orientalist paintings by incorporating a new subject & style derived from her own personal history and experiences to emancipate Arabian women and to demonstrate a tradition that is misunderstood by a Western audience. The title of the series is an appropriation of a painting by the French Romantic Artist Eugène Delacroix. Therefore, each photo in the series is influenced by Orientalist art that is then appropriated.

Essaydi's photographic series include Converging Territories (2003–2004), Les Femmes du Maroc (2005–2006), Harem (2009), Harem Revisited (2012–2013), Bullets, and Bullets Revisited (2012–2013). Her work has been exhibited around the world, including at the National Museum of African Art, and is represented in a number of collections, including the Art Institute of Chicago; the Museum Fünf Kontinente Munich/ Germany; the San Diego Museum of Art; the Cornell Fine Arts Museum, Winter Park, Florida; the Fries Museum in Leeuwarden, The Netherlands; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and the Williams College Museum of Art in Williamstown, Massachusetts. She was named as #18 in Charchub's "Top 20 Contemporary Middle Eastern Artists in 2012-2014". In 2015, the San Diego Museum of Art mounted the exhibition, Lalla Essaydi: Photographs.

Source: Wikipedia


Lalla A. Essaydi grew up in Morocco and now lives in USA where she received her MFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts/TUFTS University in May 2003. Essaydi’s work is represented by Howard Yezerski Gallery in Boston and Edwynn Houk Gallery in New York City. Her work has been exhibited in many major international locales, including Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis, Texas, Buffalo, Colorado, New York, Syria, Ireland, England, France, the Netherlands, Sharjah, U.A.E., and Japan and is represented in a number of collections, including the Williams College Museum of Art, The Art Institute of Chicago, the Fries Museum, the Netherlands, and The Kodak Museum of Art. Her art, which often combines Islamic calligraphy with representations of the female body, addresses the complex reality of Arab female identity from the unique perspective of personal experience. In much of her work, she returns to her Moroccan girlhood, looking back on it as an adult woman caught somewhere between past and present, and as an artist, exploring the language in which to “speak” from this uncertain space. Her paintings often appropriate Orientalist imagery from the Western painting tradition, thereby inviting viewers to reconsider the Orientalist mythology. She has worked in numerous media, including painting, video, film, installation, and analog photography.

"In my art, I wish to present myself through multiple lenses -- as artist, as Moroccan, as traditionalist, as Liberal, as Muslim. In short, I invite viewers to resist stereotypes."

Source: lallaessaydi.com


 

Lalla Essaydi's Video

Selected Books

Inspiring Portfolios

Call for Entries
Win A Solo Exhibition in August
Get International Exposure and Connect with Industry Insiders
 
Stay up-to-date  with call for entries, deadlines and other news about exhibitions, galleries, publications, & special events.

More Great Photographers To Discover

Ernest Cole
South Africa
1940 | † 1990
Ernest Cole was born in South Africa’s Transvaal in 1940 and died in New York City in 1990. During his life he was known for only one book: House of Bondage – published in 1967. In 2011, the Hasselblad Foundation produced a follow-up: Ernest Cole: Photographer. Cole’s early work chronicled the horrors of apartheid and in 1966 he fled the Republic of South Africa becoming a ‘banned person’. He was briefly associated with Magnum Photographers and received funding from the Ford Foundation and Time-Life. In North America, he concentrated on street photography in primarily urban settings. Between 1969 and 1971, Cole spent an extensive amount of time on regular visits to Sweden where he became involved with the Tiofoto collective and exhibited his work. From 1972, Cole’s life fell into disarray and he ceased to work as a photographer, losing control of his archive and negatives in the process. Having experienced periods of homelessness, Cole died aged forty-nine of pancreatic cancer in 1990. In 2017, more than 60,000 of Cole’s negatives missing for more than forty years were discovered in a Stockholm bank vault. This work is now being examined and catalogued.Source: Magnum Photos Ernest Cole (1940–1990)—one of South Africa’s first black photo-journalists—created powerful photographs that revealed to the world what it meant to be black under apartheid. With imaginative daring, courage, and compassion, Cole portrayed the everyday lives of blacks as they negotiated apartheid’s racist laws and oppression. Apartheid, which means “apartness” in Afrikaans (the language of South Africa’s white minority of Dutch descent), was an often brutally enforced legal policy that separated people by race in all aspects of life, within a white supremacist hierarchy of power. Born in Eersterust, a black freehold township in Pretoria, Cole was forcibly relocated with his family to nearby Mamelodi in the late 1950s. While still a teenager, he began working as a darkroom assistant at Drum, a black lifestyle magazine in Johannesburg. There he mingled with young black South African photographers, journalists, jazz musicians, and leaders of the burgeoning anti-apartheid movement. Inspired by Henri Cartier-Bresson’s photo-essays, Cole embarked on a life mission to produce a book that would awaken the rest of the world to apartheid’s corrosive effects. House of Bondage was published in New York in 1967. Although it was immediately banned in South Africa, contraband copies spurred on the country’s emerging activist photographers. Cole’s images are hard-hitting and incendiary, yet often subtle and even elegant. He frequently worked clandestinely with a hidden camera to capture scenes he was forbidden to photograph, employing striking perspectives and framing. Many of the prints on view here are displayed for the first time uncropped, as he originally intended, and often accompanied by House of Bondage’s incisive captions. In 1966 Cole was arrested by the South African police. Fleeing to Europe, he took with him little more than the layouts for his book. He spent the remaining 23 years of his life in painful exile between Sweden and the United States; after 1975 he was often destitute, living on New York City streets and in the subway. In 1990 he died of cancer at the age of 49—one week after Nelson Mandela’s release from prison. Nearly all his possessions were lost; fortunately, he had given some prints to Tio Fotografer, a Swedish photographers’ association, which later donated them to the Hasselblad Foundation. Bringing this remarkable artist’s works to the international stage, Ernest Cole Photographer commemorates his pioneering efforts to capture the complex truths of day-to-day, lived experiences during harrowing times. Critiquing institutionalized segregation and celebrating human resilience, Cole challenged the status quo, and his work continues to speak eloquently and forcefully to contemporary issues of poverty and racial inequality in the United States and worldwide.Source: Grey Art Gallery, NYU
Fang Tong
China/Canada
Fang Tong is an awarded-winning photographer based in Vancouver Canada. In 2015, she won first prize in the Nikon International Photography Competition. She had an interview with Canada Broadcasting Corporation CBC Arts in 2019. Fang Tong had solo and group shows in cities such as Paris, Sicily, Budapest, Barcelona, London, Shanghai, and Vancouver. Fang Tong is a cinematic-style photographer, as a spectator of life. Her works are embedded with an implied narrative, which is left to the viewer to resolve over time with their own imagination. Reflecting her background in classical art, photography is carefully planned to control the frame and the expression of details, giving her work an ethos of a painter. As a bystander, Fang Tong captures the potential that photography can embody pieces with an eternal quality, thereby creating a slightly fictional world that resembles reality but transcends consciousness. Fang Tong’s passion is for her work to border on the surreal, yet hold back enough to keep it firmly in the real world. Her photos provoke audiences to create a narrative out of cinematic pictures. There may be no clearly defined story behind the scene, but there is a strong mood and atmosphere throughout the whole image. The imaginary world is strangely familiar while the narrative arc takes audiences on a hyper-visual ride through people's subconsciousness. She nurtures the balance between the real and the surreal that pulls her audiences into the world she created, but she also allows the audience to discover their own answers.
Henry Peach Robinson
United Kingdom
1830 | † 1901
Henry Peach Robinson was an English pictorialist photographer best known for his pioneering combination printing - joining multiple negatives or prints to form a single image; an early example of photomontage. He joined vigorously in contemporary debates in the photographic press and associations about the legitimacy of 'art photography' and in particular the combining of separate images into one. Robinson was the oldest of four children of John Robinson, a Ludlow schoolmaster, and his wife Eliza. He was educated at Horatio Russell's academy in Ludlow until he was thirteen, when he took a year's drawing tuition with Richard Penwarne before being apprenticed to a Ludlow bookseller and printer, Richard Jones. While continuing to study art, his initial career was in bookselling, in 1850 working for the Bromsgrove bookseller Benjamin Maund, then in 1851 for the London-based Whittaker & Co. In 1852 he exhibited an oil painting, On the Teme Near Ludlow, at the Royal Academy. That same year Robinson began taking photographs, and five years later, following a meeting with the photographer Hugh Welch Diamond, decided to devote himself to that medium, in 1855 opening a studio in Leamington Spa, selling portraits. In 1856, with Rejlander, he was a founding member of the Birmingham Photographic Society. In 1859 he married Selina Grieves, daughter of a Ludlow chemist, John Edward Grieves. His son, Ralph Winwood Robinson, was also a photographer. In 1864, at the age of 34, Robinson was forced to give up his studio due to ill-health from exposure to toxic photographic chemicals. Gernsheim (1962) has shown that thereafter he preferred the easier 'scissors and paste-pot' method of making his combination prints, rather than the more exacting darkroom method employed by Rejlander. Relocating to London, Robinson kept up his involvement with the theoretical side of photography, writing the influential essay Pictorial Effect in Photography (1869), Being Hints on Composition and Chiaroscuro for Photographers, published in 1868. Around this time his health had improved sufficiently to open a new studio in Tunbridge Wells with Nelson King Cherrill, and in 1870 he became vice-president of the Royal Photographic Society. He advocated strongly for photography to be regarded as an art form. The partnership with Cherrill dissolved in 1875, Robinson continuing the business until his retirement in 1888. His son, Ralph Winwood Robinson, took over the studio business. Following internal disputes within the Photographic Society, he resigned in 1891 to become one of the early members of the rival Linked Ring society, in which he was active until 1897, when he was also elected an honorary member of the Royal Photographic Society. Robinson was an early supporter of the Photographic Convention of the United Kingdom and took part in this institution's long running debates about photography as an art form. He was invited to serve as the President of the PCUK in 1891 but, as he described later, "I felt compelled to decline, knowing that I could not carry out the duties as they should be carried out, having a defect of voice which would not allow me to read my own address." He was subsequently persuaded to serve as President in 1896, when his presidential speeches were read out by a colleague. He died aged 70 and was buried in Tunbridge Wells in early 1901. Henry Peach Robinson was one of the most prominent art photographers of his day. His third and the most famous composite picture, Fading Away (1858) was both popular and fashionably morbid. He was a follower of the pre-Raphaelites and was influenced by the aesthetic views of John Ruskin. In his Pre-Raphaelite phase he attempted to realize moments of timeless significance in a "mediaeval" setting, anticipating the work of Julia Margaret Cameron, Burne-Jones and the Symbolists. According to his letters, he was influenced by the paintings of J.M.W. Turner. He defended composite photography, asserting that the creation of combination photographs were as demanding of the photographer as paintings were of the artist. Robinson compared the making of Fading Away with Zeuxis' legendary combining of the best features of five young ladies from Crotona to produce his picture of Helena.Source: Wikipedia To produce Fading Away, this intimate narrative of family tragedy, Robinson seamlessly combined five separate negatives. The scene centers on a bedridden young woman dying of tuberculosis—or possibly of a broken heart, as suggested by the Shakespearean title of a preliminary study, She Never Told Her Love. The picture was notorious both for the “artificiality” of its technique and for its subject matter, which was considered too morbid and painfully intimate to be represented photographically. Robinson’s seamless blending of reality and artifice did, however, appeal to Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria, who purchased a print of Fading Away and issued a standing order for every major composite photograph Robinson would make.Source: Metropolitan Museum of Art
Peter Nitsch
Peter Nitsch was part of the late eighties of the German Skater scene. He studied communication design in Munich and graduated as a designer from the University of Munich, Department of Design (specializing in motion design). As an on-air designer, he worked for clients such as Universal Studios, ProSieben, 13th Street, SciFi Channel, and the United Nations. He then began to concentrate on corporate design and photography. Nitsch has won several international awards both as a designer (New York Festival, BDA) and photographer (Los Angeles International Photography Award, Hasselblad Masters semifinalist). He is co-founder of 'Playboard Magazine', 'RUPA' and the former culture blog 'get addicted to'. In 2020 Nitsch became a lifetime member of The Royal Photographic Society of Thailand. Tango in the Big Mango For me, my photography has always been related to people, stories, and life's journey. Tango In The Big Mango is an attempt in observing moments of people in dialogue with life. The series explores Bangkok as a city in which the coexistence of different cultures and people from different countries, despite their peculiarities, have found a way to live together. Tango in the Big Mango photo book is a mixture of documentary/street and conceptual images. The series consists of four parts: documentary/street photography, and conceptual themes of greed, growth, and angst. Tango in the Big Mango captures the intensity of urban life and barrage of consumption, culture, and eccentricity in Bangkok. More about Tango in the Big Mango photo book
Bert Stern
United States
1929 | † 2013
Bertram Stern (October 3, 1929 – June 26, 2013) was a self-taught American commercial photographer. He was the son of Jewish immigrants and grew up in Brooklyn. His father worked as a children’s portrait photographer. After dropping out of high school at the age of 16, he gained a job in the mail room at Look magazine. He became art director at Mayfair magazine, where Stern learned how to develop film and make contact sheets, and started taking his own pictures. In 1951, Stern was drafted into the US Army and was sent to Japan and assigned to the photographic department. In the 1960s Stern's heavy use of amphetamines, led to the destruction to his marriage to Balanchine ballerina, Allegra Kent. By the late 1970s Stern returned to the U.S. to photograph portraits and fashion. He was the subject of the 2010 documentary, "Bert Stern: Original Madman," directed by his secret wife, Shannah Laumeister. Ms. Laumeister and Stern never lived together, and Stern had a long standing relationship of 20+ years with Lynette Lavender who was his constant and devoted companion. His first professional assignment was in 1955 for a Madison Avenue advertising agency for Smirnoff vodka. His best known work is arguably The Last Sitting, is a collection of 2,500 photographs taken for Vogue of Marilyn Monroe over a three-day period, six weeks before her death. Stern's book The Last Sitting was published in 1982 and again in 2000. He has photographed Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Madonna, Kylie Minogue, Drew Barrymore and Lindsay Lohan (recreating The Last Sitting), among others, in addition to his work for advertising and travel publications.(Source: en.wikipedia.org)
Avarino Caracò
My Love for Photography comes from an anthropological background that over the years has led me to observe every aspect of the cultural expressions that I happened to observe. The leitmotif of each of my projects always has an identity basis, whether it is collective or individual expressions, through travel or personal experiences, conceptual representations or close portraits. I live my photographic experiences as a continuous revolution, as if it were a magnet that projects me towards a future, partly visible, but mostly to be discovered. The commitment in my projects is mainly to establish a relationship with a social context, through the technique of participating observation, trying each time to establish an honest balance between what my gaze is able to see and what the subject that photographer wants to convey. T Life T life is a very intimate project in which I wanted to know the daily life of some transgender people in Palermo (Sicily). The aim of my project is to emphasize the dignity and strength that the people I present here have every day facing all the difficulties that there are in their social contexts that have a binary structure of gender identity. Gabriel is 22 years old and has just undergone a mastectomy, the very important support of his mother Caterina has made this path very serene and she herself declared that her son's body must be shown to the world to allow them to understand what it means to face a path of identity reassignment. Rashmi is 19 years old and is a non-binary person, she recognizes herself as both a man and a woman. During my interview I got to know the different aspects of her personality, her way of seeing herself as a woman and a man, the most problematic aspects of her relationship with her family and her dreams. Fed and Giorgia are 18 years old. Fed is a transgender person in a pre-hormonal phase, but his family does not allow him to complete the transition by putting a deep communication barrier between them. Giorgia is cisgender and bisexual but has not come out with her family because she is afraid in their violent reaction. They live a hidden love and are planning to go and live in France where they can study at university and feel freer.
Advertisement
Win a Solo Exhibition in August
AAP Magazine #42: Shapes
Win a Solo Exhibition in August

Latest Interviews

Exclusive Interview with Laurent Baheux
French photographer Laurent Baheux, follows the tradition of humanist photographers by capturing black-and-white images of nature and wildlife. His subjects are not confined to cages or enclosures; they are free individuals, captured in the moment, displaying the full strength of their freedom, the beauty of their personalities, and the tenderness of their communal lives. Celebrated for their aesthetic power and authenticity, Laurent's black-and-white photographs have been featured in books, publications, exhibitions, and conferences, and are displayed in galleries both in France and internationally.
Reflections by Jon Enoch
Jon Enoch is a London-based freelance photographer, who works with celebrities, sports people, CEOs, as well as advertising agencies and brands. Jon regularly creates his own personal work, which have won numerous awards over the years. Jon’s recent project ‘The Candymen of Mumbai’ has won a Portrait of Humanity award and was the overall winner of the Pink Lady Food Photographer of the year 2023. His previous 2019 project called ‘Bikes of Hanoi’ also picked up multiple awards including the Paris Photo Prize - Gold in 2019, Portrait of Humanity Award 2020 and was the Smithsonian Grand Prize Winner in 2020. He was also shortlisted for the Sony World Photography Awards in 2020 and nominated for the Lens Culture Portrait Prize 2020. We asked him a few questions about his project 'Reflections'
Exclusive Interview with George Byrne
George Byrne is an acclaimed Australian photographer known for his striking use of color and composition. Byrne's work often captures urban landscapes with a minimalist and abstract aesthetic, transforming ordinary cityscapes into vivid, painterly images. His distinctive style highlights the beauty in everyday scenes, emphasizing geometry, light, and shadow to create visually captivating pieces. Byrne has gained international recognition for his unique approach to photography, blending elements of fine art and documentary to offer a fresh perspective on the urban environment.
Barbara Cole and Wet Collodion Photographs
Cole is best known for her underwater photography, but her other studio practice during the cold months in Toronto is an ongoing series of wet collodion photographs. This heavily analog process from the 19th Century is a years-long endeavor of revitalization and experimentation, offering modern day viewers an understanding of what it took to develop photographs in the early days of its invention. Cole has added her own unique take on the process by adding a layer of color in contrast to the usual sepia tones associated with the genre. The resulting wet plate photographs are tactile and dimensional dances between light and shadow, past and present, depicting women in timeless dreamscapes. We asked her a few questions about this specific project
Exclusive Interview with Michael Joseph
I discovered Michael Joseph's work in 2016, thanks to Ann Jastrab. I was immediately captivated by the power of his beautiful black and white photographs from his series 'Lost and Found.' His haunting portraits of young Travelers have stayed with me ever since.
Exclusive Interview with Debe Arlook
Debe Arlook is an award-winning American artist working in photography. Through color and diverse photographic processes, Arlook’s conceptual work is a response to her surroundings and the larger environment, as she attempts to understand the inner and outer worlds of human relationships. Degrees in filmmaking and psychology inform these views.
Orchestrating Light: Seth Dickerman Talks About his Passion for Photographic Printmaking
Seth Dickerman is a master manipulator of the wide spectrum of light densities that reflect off the surface of a photographic print and enter into our field of vision. His singular intent in making prints is to bring out the best an image has to offer, which means giving an image the ability to hold our attention, to engage us, and to allow us to discover something about an image that is meaningful and significant.
Exclusive Interview with Michel Haddi
Photographer and film director, Michel Haddi has photographed many high-profile celebrities while living in the USA including, Clint Eastwood, Martin Scorsese, David Bowie, Uma Thurman, Francis Ford Coppola, Cameron Diaz, Faye Dunaway, Nicholas Cage, Johnny Depp, Heath Ledger, Angelina Jolie, Janet Jackson, Jennifer Lopez, and many others. He also manages a publishing house, MHS publishing, which publishes his own books. Currently based in London we have asked him a few questions about his life and work
Exclusive Interview with Sebastien Sardi
In 2008, Swedish photographer Sebastian Sardi, inspired by an article exposing hidden mining-related incidents, embarked on a photography journey. Without formal training, he explored mines and ventured to India's Jharkhand state to document coal miners in Dhanbad, known as the "coal capital." His project, "Black Diamond," captured the lives of people, including men, women, and children, dedicated to coal extraction in grueling conditions.
Call for Entries
AAP Magazine #42 Shapes
Publish your work in AAP Magazine and win $1,000 Cash Prizes