Erró – Portrett - Women from North Africa
In the early 1980s Erró created many series of collages and paintings presenting gorgeous young women from North Africa in the nude or lightly swathed. These images derive from a large collection of postcards found by Erró and his friend Jean-Jacques Lebel at a Paris fleamarket.
The postcards were published from the late 19th century up until 1940, circulating in France during the French colonial rule of North Africa. The postcards transmitted an unrealistic image of native colonial women to the homeland families, friends, and lovers of tourists, soldiers, officials, and explorers. The models, often prostitutes, were photographed in a clichéd manner, in a blend of the erotic and the exotic that primarily conveyed Western sexual fantasies. If the women of the Arab world were veiled and distant, these photographs depict them in a setting from the Arabian Nights, in a continuation of Orientalist painting. With no regard for local culture or tradition, the photographers more or less strip the fair maidens. Captions often assign particular ethnicities to the models (Moorish, Arabian, Women of Oued-Nail), as if to bolster the idea that native women were obtainable or even at one’s disposal.
In place of this fantastical and risqué portrayal, Erró presents a different narrative, intended to honour these silent and anonymous heroines. By joining headshots and nude pictures with images from the Western cultural world, through association and eclectic juxtaposition, Erró manages to reawaken ideas of the possible truth of these women. In the paintings Erró on the one hand underscores the women’s beauty by placing lavish flowers nearby, while on the other hand he implies their status as ‘consumer goods’ by juxtaposing them with still-lifes or transforming them into victims of the dominant patriarchal and colonial power through requisite war images.
Sunday 16 May 3 p.m.
Hafnarhús – Erró: Women from North Africa
Gallery Talk with Kristín Loftsdóttir anthropologist.