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Jananne Al-Ani
3 mins Colour


Throughout Untitled, we see a woman brushing her hair in an almost ritualistic, if not obsessive manner, immersed in darkness.

As she carries out her simple act, the protagonist never reveals her true face, which remains hidden by a mass of long black hair streaked with silver. Everything is denied us. The identity of this woman remains unknown. Only her hands are visible as they accompany the brush in a repetitive motion. That cascade of hair evokes images and thoughts connected with the role and the representative categories of the woman in different contexts and societies. It is impossible not to think, first of all, of the negation or annihilation of identity brought about by the veil in Arab culture, especially in view of the Iraqi origins of the artist.

Another interpretative level is suggested by the sensuality of the action, becoming erotic in the male imagination and experienced as an act of seduction…This work also reminds us of the only unbraided locks visible in early European painting: those of Mary Magdalen. That long hair, otherwise unacceptable in a religious context, becomes the expression of stricken grief in the Crucifixions and of loving care in the Lamentations and the Dead Christs. And again, thoughts encompass long hair cut short as a votive or expiatory act. But also of hiding oneself behind the hair, to conceal one's identity. Few other ‘parts for the whole' succeed in narrating so convincingly the stereotypes of the female ‘condition' in different cultures and times. The video has no soundtrack, the image is so strong that nothing need be added. This work also reminds us that the expression of sexuality in maturity.
Abridged from the catalogue for IdentitÀ nomadismo, Lorenzo Fusi, Milan 2005

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