Tunisian Photographer Blurs Gender Boundaries

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Art that shocks is not necessarily meant to shock, but I would say that the fundamental aim is to reveal the hidden, the silenced, the unseen, and the forgotten. Such an art speaks what should not spoken and exhibits what should be not shown, a daring choice of the artist who seeks to distress the ordinary, the common, and the mainstream with the different and the alternative.

According to Michel Foucault, the official discourses occlude forms of knowledge that are different and distinct from them. Hence, the normal person is not the specimen; the good citizen is different from the delinquent; the normal straight cannot be a pervert; a girl cannot be a boy. Official discourses are but constructs, and when we tackle the question of gender, we may say that the demarcation between sexes is but a social and cultural construct, a wobbly duality.

An exhibition of daring photographs in the Gallery “Cine Son” in La Marsa is wrapping up this weekend after running about two weeks and bestowing an opportunity upon the lovers and enthusiasts of art and photography to discover an alternative perspective and representation of gender. Tarak Khalladi, a young Tunisian cineaste and photographer, an emerging talent, is one of the partakers in this exhibition. Speaking to Alarabonline, Khalladi said, “I think it is high time to offer the young Tunisian talents a chance to enter the arena of artistic design. Tunisian art has a lot to say and to offer, notably new and original techniques and perspectives”.

Presenting his work, Kalladi added, “I attempted to blur the boundary between the masculine and the feminine so as to shatter the demarcation line between genders. In photos, I tried to highlight masculinity that survives within extreme and intense femininity”. In black and white, the photos speak out a message, a modern or let us brand it a “postmodern message” that blurs boundaries and blows apart duality. Deconstructing, to use the expression coined by Jacques Derrida, the already-established official gender construct, Khalladi shot to some extent erotic, but expressive scenes: a woman girded with a bodice, an ode to seductive femininity; another woman dressed like a little girl clutching a doll, a quiz, a quagmire that pushes the viewers to ask quite a few questions, paradoxes brought into harmony through the camera of the artist photographer.

With Khalladi, art has no taboo as it digs into the secrecies and ambiguities of the body, the body that has it own aesthetics though always silenced. A new approach to photography, the young artist has adopted through mixing different techniques and making use of the skills he gained from cinematography. In an attempt to satisfy an audience that has been bored with minimalism and superficiality, the artist has conducted his research and enquiry taking the body as a starting point to convey a new perception.

It is worth noting, in this context, that Khalladi has worked with a number of Tunisian and foreign artists, notably painter Aicha Ben Mostapha throughout the exhibition that was held in El-Teatro in Tunis, Abdelaziz Mohsni, Sami Mrad, Claude Perez, Lamine Sassi, Chahla Soumer, Ahmed Zelfani and others.

Via [Alarab Online]

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