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Veil: Veiling, Representation, and Contemporary Art [Paperback]

David A. Bailey , Gilane Tawadros
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

April 8, 2003 0262523485 978-0262523486 0

No single item of clothing has had greater influence on Western images of Middle Eastern and North African women than the veil. The fascination of Western writers, artists, and photographers with the veil reflects the voyeuristic nature of our interest in what is strange and "other."Veil, which accompanies an exhibition organized by the Institute of International Visual Arts in London, explores the representation of the veil in contemporary visual arts. Providing a context for the commissioned essays are a number of classical historical texts crossing religions, cultures, genders, and ages -- from Greek myths to articles published in the aftermath of September 11, 2001. Some of the contemporary artists and scholars write autobiographically about the meaning of the veil in their lives. Others take a more political approach, discussing, for example, how the events of September 11 changed the use and reception of veil imagery throughout the world. Still others take a historical approach, examining how nineteenth-century technological developments in travel and photography led to photographic depictions of both the veiled and unveiled body in relation to landscape. A number of essays look at the art historical precedents for the current interest in artwork addressing the veil, while others examine how codes of modesty and gender segregation have affected the making and viewing of films in postrevolutionary Iran.The essays are by Jananne Al-Ani, David A. Bailey, Alison Donnell, Ghazel, Salah Hassan, Reina Lewis, Hamid Naficy, Zineb Sedira, and Gilane Tawadros. The artists represented include Faisal Abdu'Allah, Kourosh Adim, Ghada Amer, Jananne Al-Ani, Farah Bajull, Samta Benyahia, Ga봡n de Cl鲡mbault, Marc Garanger, Shadafarin Ghadirian, Group AES, Emily Jacir, Ramesh Kalkur, Shirin Neshat, Harold Offeh, Gillo Pontecorvo, Zineb Sedira, Mitra Tabrizian, and Elin Strand.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In response to Western focus on the veil as a sign and tool of women's oppression, Bailey, codirector of London's African and Asian Visual Arts Archive, and Tawadros, founding director of the Institute of International Visual Arts, put together an exhibition of artists from a variety of nationalities who have worked with its tensions and contradictions. Veiled women sit at The Last Supper, as composed by London-born artist Faisal Abdu'Allah; a film still shows a journalist wearing a burqa in Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf's Kandahar; women in shorts also wear black veils in Iraqi-born artist Jananne Al'Ani's black-and-white photographs; a photo by Moroccan-born, Paris-based artist Majida Khattari has a young woman with a mesh green net pulled tightly over her head-it is titled "1001 Sufferings of Tchadiri." Seven essays by a variety of scholars, while sometimes jargon-heavy, ask difficult and incisive questions. Harvard Divinity School professor Leila Ahmed deconstructs "The Discourse of the Veil," tracing it to Qassim Amin's 1899 text "The Liberation of Woman," while Alison Donnell, of Britain's Nottingham Trent University, inquires into "Visibility, Violence and Voice?: Attitudes to Veiling Post-11 September." Her tentative conclusion is convincing: "In light of political failure, perhaps cultural interventions can bring change to the pattern through which Muslim women only achieve Western visibility by suffering violence."
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.


"Veil speaks to artists and art historians as well as anthropologists and historians." Sarah Rogers Art Journal

Product Details

  • Paperback: 191 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press (April 8, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262523485
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262523486
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 8.6 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,202,119 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Interesting and Insightful November 11, 2003
From the hair and face coverings common in the Middle East to bridal costumes and nuns' habits in the West, the veil is "an item of clothing dramatically overburdened with symbolism ... [and] fought over by adherents and opponents," observes Reina Lewis in her introduction to this book, which is drawn from the Institute of Interna-tional Visual Arts exhibition of the same name. Summarizing the work of 20 artists, and incorporating essays and several dozen literary excerpts from a kaleidoscope of view-points, the book offers insight into questions such as: Where did "the veil" come from? What are its meanings, in the East, in the West, and in that growing, often exciting cul-tural space that is neither one nor the other? The editors challenge several notions com-mon in the West: the veil as exclusively Middle Eastern; the veil as "Islamic," the veil as a barrier to social rights for women, and the interpretation of choosing to veil or not as equivalent to choosing "oppression" on the one hand or "freedom" on the other. DD
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