Cover Girl -The Female Body and Islam in Contemporary Art-

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September 17 – October 23, 2004

Curated by Atteqa Ali and Mariani Lefas-Tetenes
Artists: Rummana Hussain, Aisha Khalid, Emily Jacir, Aysha Adil, and Naiza Khan


Reception: Friday, September 17, 2004, 6:00 to 8:00pm.
Curators’ talk: Thursday, September 23, 2004, 6:00 to 8:00pm

ISE CULTURAL FOUNDATION is pleased to present the exhibition, “Cover Girl: The Female Body and Islam in Contemporary Art”. We cover things to protect them. We cover things to hide them from others. We cover things that are private. The five artists in this exhibition¡½ Rummana Hussain, Aisha Khalid, Emily Jacir, Aysha Adil, and Naiza Khan ¡½cover the female body both literally and abstractly. Rummana Hussain covers her body with projected images of women; Aisha Khalid shapes paintings of veils to suggest the presence of women. Emily Jacir paints over once naked body; Aysha Adil uses parts of the female body in unexpected contexts. And Naiza Khan presents images of women in ways that obscure their physical features. The five artists are women who were born in Islamic regions of the world or into Islamic households; Adil, Khalid, and Khan are from Pakistan, Jacir from Palestine, and Hussain from India.

Throughout the twentieth century, artists in different parts of the world and in different historical periods have employed either the whole or partial human form to examine issues ranging from sexuality to notions of beauty. In particular, feminist artists from the 1970s and 80s used the female body in their artworks to consider the status of women. For example, both Ana Mendieta and Hannah Wilke, in performances and photographs in which they appeared in various levels of undress, pointed out how women are objectified or oppressed. The five artists in this exhibition continue to highlight the female body in order to examine the place of women in the world today, yet they do so without showing or exposing it directly. By covering the female form, they draw attention to it in ways that suggest not only Islamic religious doctrines, but also Western media images in which Muslim women are always veiled. And while the artists in this exhibition ¡Èveil¡É their representations of women, they do so in unexpected ways that call into question practices in both Western countries and Islamic societies.

Review: The New York TImes, October 8, 2004 by Holland Cotter

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