L'Orientation de la Vitrine,2004

Leyla Al Mutannakker
L'Orientation de la Vitrine(five Orientalist paintings: Jean-Leon Gerome, Return From the Hunt, 1878;Jan-Baptist, Saltimbanques, 1883; Lepold Cael Muller, The Admirers of the Dancer, 1882; Fernand Cormon, The Fallen Favorite, 1870; Klaus Zimmerman, The Rapt of the Odalisque, 2004),2004
Painting installation
435×130 cm
Courtesy of the artist


The origins of my work lie in a painting by John Frederick Lewis. This picture—Orientalist in character, and which I won’t describe here—was the site of a genuine fascination, mixed with a discomfort and concern. To understand this curious delight, to resolve this deep embarrassment, I had to cross—after many others, accompanied by others—the still arid field of Orientalism. Roads are traced, directions indicated, destinations promised.

Yet where the bipolarity of horizons prevents the juxtaposition of perspectives, the map, in order to be read, had to be turned on its head. This is the reversal, the about-face for which my work strives. It restages what occurs when the reading unveils the fantasy and the ideology of this Orientalist geography, when the reader is not the one to whom such signs are addressed. When, moreover, that reader is the one whose very ‘nature’ is supposedly portrayed by these signs.

This project was part of Sharjah Biennial 7.

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