community: art: ghada amer’s personal pleasures

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(KSKC, 2005. via brooklynmuseum.org)

Ghada Amer is primarily known for working with themes of love, women, and sexuality. Her works have popularly been interpreted as urging women to own their sexuality, to revel in it rather than hide it, or hide from it.

Ghada Amer is most famous for her embroidered paintings in which she carefully stitched repeated pornographic images of women onto canvas. These images are often partially obscured by loose threads left hanging down the canvas.

Often critics say that the meaning in Amer’s works have to do with the fact that she is a feminist or has a female identity, a Muslim identity, and/or an Egyptian or Arab identity.

However, Amer, who was born in Cairo, educated in Paris, and works from New York, specifically said that she wishes people didn’t judge her work based on her ethnicity, nationality, religion, or gender.

So, how do you look at an artists work and take into account their background without reducing their work to just their background?

There isn’t an easy answer to this question and Ghada Amer’s art plays with the idea that identities are important but not defining. Identities exist but they are ever-changing and evolving. They are part of you, but don’t make you who you are.

By refusing to let critics and audiences define her work according to her ethnicity, religion, nationality, or gender, Ghada Amer transcends identity boundaries that we often place on ourselves, boundaries that constrict us.

Ghada Amer’s voice is important. In my opinion, she seems to know that and so she makes a point to assert her voice (her contradictions) in the dialogue about her artwork. But your voice in important too. What does her work say to you? What identities do you embody? Do you feel like your identities define you or do you define them? How would you represent your sexuality visually?

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(Red Diagonals, via brooklynmuseum.com)

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(detail of embroidery, via sudsandsoda.com)

Red Diagonals (via brooklynmuseum.org)

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