Leila Fatemi, Façade through the Façade

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October 9 – November 7, 2020

Leila Fatemi

Essay by Mitra Fakhrashrafi

Façade through the Façade is a site-specific installation that expands on Fatemi’s recent project, Disorienting Orientalism. Used as a barrier, the mashrabiya frames the viewer’s access to the collection of Orientalist fantasy paintings assembled behind the window. An architectural feature traditionally found in Islamic regions, the mashrabiya is an oriel window that provides air circulation while doubling as a privacy screen indoors. Informally translated as “Harem Window”, it is a common symbol within Orientalist travel literature, paintings and photography depictions of the Harem. Merging Orientalist harem fictions with Islamic architecture, the work creates a voyeuristic environment where the viewer is invited to challenge their reading of the scenes behind the screen.

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Documentation by Roya DelSol and Philip Leonard Ocampo