Women’s modesty and anger
11 March 2011 – 25 September 2011

Rituals, wigs, scarfs, make-up and so many other constraints determined the life of women for centuries, between mutilation, dissimulation and unveiling.

The inferiority of women’s status in certain of yesterday’s and today’s societies, the liberation of the women, their dissimulation under various models of veils and clothes (abaya, burqa, chadri, haik, hijab, jilbeb, to khimar, niqab, chador), the destitution shown in the media : what are the realities and the situations which determined and still determine the relations between the society and the feminine body ?

Since millenniums and in most cultures, women hide certain parts of their body. Is it natural modesty which protects them, signs of respect or constraints imposed by a collectively recognized decency ?

More specifically, how do oriental women live today, towards and against certain prohibitions, beyond the sometimes-simplistic clichés Westerners make of their living conditions? How do they express themselves ? How do they see their world and ours; how do we see them ?

There are so many nuances in the game of the glimpse! The mirror, the Oriental amulets which protect from the evil eye, the eyes hidden behind dark glasses or under the netting of a chadri, made up with kohl, shy or provocative; the mystery of these multiple expressions have fascinated and inspired many artists.

The point here is to evoke modesty, whether it is forced or chosen, this « grace » tinged with fear and shame, politenesses and prohibitions, which dictates the behavior of women as soon as they grow up from childhood, whatever culture they come from.

Is is to these multiple aspects of the feminine body that the Boghossian Foundation wishes to give echo through this exhibition, by inviting about twenty artists of East and West to express themselves in the Villa Empain.

The invited and represented artists

Ghada Amer (Egypt), Atelier Oï (Switzerland), Nobuyoshi Araki (Japan), Lara Baladi (Lebanon), Rina Banerjee (India), Hubert Barrère (France), Claire Beillard (France), Louise Bourgeois (France/USA), Balthasar Burkhard (Switzerland), Gabriele Corni (Italy), Marta Deskur (Poland), Nezaket Ekici (Turkey), Lalla Essaydi (Morrocco), Lamya Gargash (UAE – Dubaï), Shadi Ghadirian (Iran), Patrizia Guerresi Maimouna (Italy), Mona Hatoum (Lebanon/Palestine), Lea Golda-Holterman (Israël), Hayv Kahraman (Irak), William Klein (USA/France), Leora Laor (Israël), Charlie Le Mindu (France), Isabelle Léourier (France), Youssef Nabil (Egypt), Shirin Neshat (Iran/USA), ORLAN (France), Pipilotti Rist (Switzerland), Aidan Salakhova (Russia), Pierrick Sorin (France), Elly Strik (The Netherlands), Lin Tianmiao (China), Amedeo M. Turello (Monaco), Joana Vasconcelos (Portugal), Arlette Vermeiren (Belgium), Jan Zwart (The Netherlands).

The Boghossian Foundation also sought the collaboration of the French writer Jean-Claude Bologne for the exhibition and for its catalog.

Author of the study Feminine Modesties, published by the Editions du Seuil in September 2010, Jean-Claude Bologne is a professor of medieval iconologie at ICART (Paris) and published about thirty books (novels, dictionaries and essays), among which History of The Love Feeling (Fayard, 2004), and A History of the Loving Conquest (Seuil, 2007).

Several activities will be organized at the Villa Empain in the frame of this exhibition: projection of movies, international meetings and debates. The dates of these activities will be communicated in the course of January 2011.

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Thanks to

The Boghossian Foundation thanks all those who contributed to the realization of this exhibition, mainly all the represented artists and Jean-Claude Bologne, but also Valérie Auberson, Laila Binbrek, Vanessa Clairet, Eric Decelle, Patricia De Peuter, Nathalie Obadia, Jean-Marc Dimanche, Emilie Dujat, Florence Guillier-Bernard, Sophie Hasearts, Xavier Hufkens, Jérôme Jacobs, Eric Kawan, Christophe Langlitz, Agatha Le Guern, Laurence Maynier, Anne Petre, Thibault Pradet, Michel Rein, Zoé Roulot, Samir Sabet d’Acre, Antonella Sbarra, Valerio Tazzetti, Adelina von Fürstenberg, Katrina Weber, Diana Wiegersma, Clémence Wolff,
and Aéroplastics Gallery (Brussels), the bank ING (Brussels), Boghossian SA (Geneva), Louise Bourgeois Foundation (New York), Hermès, Xavier Hufkens Gallery (Brussels), JMG Gallery (Paris), Le Guern Gallery (Warsaw), Libertine Gallery (Brussels), Michel Rein Gallery (Paris), Maison Parisienne (Paris), the Manufacture Nationale de Sèvres – Sèvres City of Ceramics, MnAcommunication (Paris), the Nadour Collection (Paris), OltreDimore Gallery (Bologna), Nathalie Obadia Gallery (Paris and Brussels), Photo&Contemporary Gallery (Turin), The Third Line Gallery (Dubaï), Amadeo M. Turello Studio (Monaco).

This exhibition was curated by Diane Hennebert, in charge of the direction of the Boghossian Foundation, with the collaboration of Christophe Dosogne, artistic advisor of the Boghossian Foundation.