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Obscene Bodies

2012

Nude goes with beauty as naked goes with shame. The nude has nothing, the naked everything, to hide.

 - Danto, Arthur C., The Madonna of the Future.

This quote, from the article of the Madonna of the Future by Arthur C. Danto, focuses on the artist Lucian Freud. I wanted to develop the concepts of nudity, nakedness, and shame in the context of women wearing the hijab. In OBSCENE BODIES, the women who stare out at the camera without any shame are “nude” since they are in a natural mode, whereas the women trying to cover themselves out of embarrassment are “naked,” and they do not seem content any longer. 

 

The initial idea for this video began with the frame itself. The frame consists of five horizontal and five vertical rectangles. Each of the rectangles was made to fit my bodily dimensions. In the video, five naked women are standing within the black frame. Three of the women are completely naked, and two of them have their heads covered and are wearing black socks. The completely naked bodies stand motionless in the confines of their frames, staring at the viewer. The other two women try futilely to cover their breasts and genitals. To achieve the erasure of identity, they are wearing scarves, the upper corner of which has fallen down to obscure their faces. In the other frames, strands of actual hair hanging from the upper part of the frame attempt to conceal the women’s faces.

 

In Iran, the hijab conceals a woman’s hair, but in this instance, the hair itself becomes the covering. The hair achieves the dual role of both accentuating the women’s gender and erasing their identity.

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