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Latifa Echakhch [see all titles]
Kamel Mennour [see all titles]
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Jean-Christophe Ammann
(excerpt, p. 7)

How does one talk about a piece of art when one knows neither the artist nor the rest of his or her work? At “Art Dubai” in 2009, I discovered, like a bolt from the blue, a creation of Latifa Echakhch that captured my complete attention. It consisted of three large carpets of which only the edges remained, along with the fringes at each end. In other words, the artist had meticulously and thoroughly cut out1 the interiors of the carpets, the manufacture of which is given over to women. We are familiar with the design of Oriental carpets: rich, ornamental and ritualistic in their conception. And so, hollowed out, the carpets lay on top of each other, offset at oblique angles. It seemed, indeed, as if some kind of incident had occurred, attracting one’s attention.

When I understood what the artist had done, I recognised the explosive political force of the work. In Islamic countries, women appearing in public are usually veiled. Moreover, their world is restricted to the insides of houses. The mutilation of the carpet, of what women have produced over months and years, must be seen as a provocative act, similar to when the ball is cleared to the opponent’s end of the pitch in a game of football The work is not concerned with the labour itself, but rather the conditions in which it takes place: the division of labour that distinguishes the centre of the carpet from its perimeter, rather like an artistic segregation.

If we take the idea further and focus on the edges of the carpet, we can also talk about borders and the ideology of the border.