As the first in four generations on one side of my family not to be a combat veteran, and on the other side the direct descendent of one of the most radical figures in the American left-wing activism movement of the 1960s, Al-Uzzá’s Chamber is a part of a series around the war in Afghanistan that communicates an ambiguity of identity that reflect my feelings around situational ambiguity of contemporary war, of isolation, of idolatry, of eroticism, and filial love. It is a questioning of the French legislation which would ban women from wearing traditional Muslim clothing, but moreover the disquieting political majorities on both the right and left that hold collective angst around the threats to Western ideals and values, and our actions which build religious fundamentalist movements.
When asked about my position on this war, I answer that I have more questions than conclusions.
A group of shadow governors are leaving Al-Uzzá’s. Why they are leaving and why they have been there is unclear. Is she desired or condemned?
A devotional flower bearer offers Al-Uzzá a gathered bouquet of poppies. Who is he to Al-Uzzá? What is his offering meant to express?
Al-Uzzá lays nude on her couch, both covered and uncovered. Are the most personal parts of her hidden or on display?
If a nude veiled woman presents herself in public in Paris, she would doubtless be arrested – but would it be for her nudity, or her veil? Would this painting also be illegal in France?
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