Untitled

1998

Jananne Al-Ani
  • Artwork Details: 2 parts, each, 122 x 122cm
  • Edition: 1 of 5
  • Material description: c-type photographs
  • Credit line: © the artist
  • Theme: Undefined
  • Medium: Photograph
  • Accession number: ACC33/2000

About the Artist

Jananne- Al-Ani is an artist, researcher and lecturer who works with photography, film and video, initially beginning her career as a painter. Her work often features members of her immediate family and explores the power of testimony and the documentary tradition, through intimate recollections of absence and loss in contrast with official accounts of historic events.

Her early photographic work explores issues of gender, politics and the representation of women within a historical narrative of colonialism, especially the fetished veiled body of Middle Eastern and North African women in Orientalist paintings and photographs, as seen in the work Untitled, 1998. Adopting the conventions of early photographic studio portraiture, the five women of Al-Ani’s family (the artist herself, her mother and her sisters) are formally posed in this group portrait, dressed in traditional Arabic and Westen clothing.

Explaining the context around this work, Al-Ani states “My interest in Orientalism was the beginning of a long process of re-examining my cultural identity which I was brought face to face with in 1991 with the outbreak of war in the Gulf. The issues at the heart of the relationship between East and West are the ones that interest me and inform my work... I am particularly interested in the studio portraits, which range from the ethnographic to the pornographic, and the theatrical use of backdrops, props and costumes in the construction of fantastic tableaux exploring the Western fascination with the Veil.”

The work explores the notion of the camera as a tool for control and power while challenging the power dynamic between the female subjects and the viewer/photographer.

Read more here.

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