press release

"Beyond the obvious gender reference, there is a sense here of the fragile, poetic, real and pernicious barriers that separate cultures as well as people." ArtScene, July/Aug 2007

Architecture of the Veil PhotoTour

This site-specific installation and first U.S. museum exhibition by Algerian artist Samta Benyahia takes its theme from the moucharabieh, the openwork screens used in Mediterranean Islamic architecture to cover windows and balconies, allowing those inside—typically women—to view the outside world without being seen. For this installation, Benyahia covers the Fowler’s entrance doors and Mediterranean-inspired interior courtyard windows with printed films of a blue moucharabieh pattern. Encircling the courtyard in the Museum’s Galleria are sixty “rosettes” consisting of sequin-embroidered motifs on netting and eight large-scale black-and-white photographs of early 20th-century Algerian women including the artist’s mother and aunt. The installation provides a beautiful and dynamic exploration of gender as well as the dialectic between interior and exterior, light and shadow, concealment and revelation, and private versus public space.

Architecture of the Veil: An Installation by Samta Benyahia was made possible by the generous support of Barbara and Joe Goldenberg and Etant donnés: The French-American Fund for Contemporary Art. Additional support provided by Air France. Special thanks to the Levantine Cultural Center and the French Consulate of Los Angeles.

Architecture of the Veil
An Installation by Samta Benyahia