Friday, June 09, 2006

Meraharem statement

We need only realize how much obsessed a person is not only with the desired one but with desire itself; how (s)he is not seeking sainity but intoxication and yearning, and fears nothing more than to be relieved of his her delusion.
Thomas Mann, The Transposed Heads

In Harem, The World Behind the Veil, A.L. Croutier states: "The harem is a unique archetype of the collective unconscious. ‑‑where there are 1001 chambers of our dreams." Maraharem with striped silks and diaphanous veils is a netherworld where time is suspended and the sensuous reigns.

In skewing rigid notions of gender, we aim to recast femininity as a safe, challenging realm for men. Here men are drawn into the intoxicating and confusing experience of being looked at, where power is derived passively. All the same, while female viewers become navigators of the gaze, the point is not a reversal of power.

Instead, through art, a shared reciprocity between genders, and more expansive self‑expression beyond prescribed gender roles, can evolve. Ultimately situated perhaps on the bank of the Mediterranean Sea in Turkey or in a country in one's mind, this feminine lair manifests an insatiable longing for the exotic other. Although intellectualism is presently viewed as the peak of human potential, we would argue that one's desires form the core of human existence. Indeed here, all elements are subordinated to the delirium of the emotions. As in Hollywood simulacra where authenticity of cultural details is irrelevant, Meraharem is a pastiche of divergent Eastern objects, characters and patterns.

The photos recall sensationalized Indian kitsch of multi‑limbed magical Hindu goddesses and gods in too much make‑up and gaudy tunics. And yet all told, the frivolity and sentimentality are rendered enduring by the substantial, resonant content of myth underlying the images. The title Meraharem, a palindrome, itself, mirrors multiple layers of mythology. Symbols that are present include. book, peacock, deer, marbles, lotus blossom, Krishna and Narcissus. Epitomizing the mix‑up of sensory oblivion and enriching artistic creation, feminine and masculine energy, is the king of kitsch himself, Krishna. The Lord of the senses with the finest hair is not only the warrior liberator but also the god of happiness.