Rashid Rana - BRIC London Thursday, April 14, 2011 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Private Collection, Hong Kong

  • Exhibited

    London, Albion Gallery, The Politics of Fear, 27 March - 18 May 2007

  • Catalogue Essay

    Veil IV depicts five women, each anonymous, standing side-by-side in serial succession. The shapes of their bodies blur beneath the voluminous folds of fabric and their facial expressions and feelings are deliberately effaced by the veils. Each wears the chador, hijab and niqab; and while the colours may vary as do, barely perceptibly, the heights of the women underneath, there are otherwise no individual characteristics by which
    to identify the subjects of the photograph. These subjects, however, are two-fold, as anyone aware of Rashid Rana’s work will know. On a macro level, five Muslim women, bodies fully obscured; on a micro level, hundreds of Western porn stars, limbs splayed for the camera, and anyone with access to a computer and the internet.
    Much is made in the West of the veil, le voile, der Schleier. In repressing women’s bodies, the argument goes, the woman herself is suppressed, her identity denied, her equality unhinged. While this may still hold sound, Rana equally exposes the hypocrisy of Western thought, whereby thousands of women are also suppressed and rendered faceless whilst wearing nothing at all: porn stars, the erotic oil of the billion-plus dollar adult industry machine.
    In juxtaposing these two seemingly opposed female types – veiled/Muslim and naked/Western – Rana instigates a contemplation of stereotypes and double standards in both directions. These shrunken women, displayed as tiny thumbnails in repetition, faces hidden behind by penises or entirely cropped leaving only breasts, are no more recognisable than those hidden behind layers of traditional Muslim clothing. Simultaneously, Rana provokes Muslim viewers to consider these ‘unclean’ women in relation to their own. Western women are frequently condemned as ‘easy’ or unchaste in the Muslim world: “Men in my part of the world have a very distorted image of the Western woman. They imagine that if they would land in Europe or America, there would be people having sex in the parks,” Rana has said. In a work considered blasphemous by some, Rana quite literally recreates the image of the Muslim woman, recasting her in the image of the porn star’s own and provoking the obvious question: are both women not exploited?


Veil IV

Colour coupler print, Diasec mounted in four parts.
Each: 101.5 x 57 cm (40 x 22 1/2 in).
This work is from an edition of 5.

£250,000 - 300,000 

Sold for £301,250


14 - 15 April 2011