l'art d'être · laureen andalib

Recent Work: The Intrinsic Code of Language (2016)


Video Still, “1965: Amaranth Pink From the State of Iraq. British Mandate for Mesopotamia (1929 – 1932)”

Life-size Video Loops, 6:38′
Seven Portraits

The Intrinsic Code of Language (2016) meticulously references moments in time where colonial countries along the Silk Road started to Westernize through a breakage of fashion: blending modes of culture between the colonizer and the party being colonized.

Whether this was a subtle imposition to assimilate, provocative of rebellion, or more stark in implying oppression (in this case, a specific focus on a nation’s women)– visual metaphors are brought forward in the form of both preservation and re-appropriation.

My fascination with the Silk Road is universal. Despite the complexities of race, imperial politics, and an imbalanced system of global trade– it is through the invention of hybrid identity itself– language, created forms of tolerance, and empathy– that remind me that the Silk Road is a beautiful yet controversial model of diplomacy: a form of keen schematics the “Great Game” was once played as between some of the most powerful empires of the world. Its existence has allowed for some of the greatest blends of culture today that pride (surprising) and accumulated commonalities of cultural invention (and transaction) between these very founding nations— and allow us to bond over both gems of antiquity and the pain of past strifes through the emergence of ongoing, seeking, and solidified national identities.

By rigorously questioning our own complex heritages and upbringing, our very own “Westernization,” as well as finding inspiration in the fashion styles of the maternal sides of our families, seven participants represent hybrid identities of the Silk Road, in which we each select a song that holds the most meaning to us, and our families: an ode to tradition, despite changing times.

In an intense study of late 19th century and 20th century portraiture– backdrops, props, and positionings are either chosen by the style of portraits of our own mothers and grandmothers, where we directly wear items that have been passed down to us, or remnant of the style of portraiture of the time we’re representing.

Through the complexity of the exhausted gaze, each of us reflect on our own identity, but more importantly, the situations of our identity today based on the thresholds of current (and unfortunate) events that have been contributing in the masking and de-masking of our nations as being “Islamic.”



Sponsored by the Cornell Rawlings Presidential Research Scholars Program (RCPRS ’17), The Cornell Commitment, and Stanford University Research Conference (SURA).

Recent Work: The Intrinsic Code of Language (2016)

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