Calligraphy written in henna appears in all of Lalla Essaydi’s works in this exhibition. Henna adorns the female face and body as a cover for the skin in the way that clothing would usually conceal the body for protection and for modesty. Not only does Essaydi use calligraphy for body adornment, but it also serves as a backdrop for her scenes. Large cream sheets of cloth covered with calligraphy are draped across many of her compositions with very little bare space left unadorned by Arabic writing. With calligraphy in henna on the body, clothing and background, subject and scenery blend seamlessly together in Essaydi’s work. The process is long and labor intensive, but the results are stunning photos which engage and challenge the viewer.
Click here for a .pdf of the entire essay by Danielle Lewandowski.