Ayesha Durrani (b. 1976)
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Ayesha Durrani (b. 1976)

Hanging On; What Lies Beneath

Ayesha Durrani (b. 1976)
Hanging On; What Lies Beneath
signed and dated in Urdu '2007' (lower left); signed and dated in Urdu '2007' (lower left)
marbelling, silver leaf and gouache on wasli paper; gouache on wasli paper
11 7/8 x 11 in. (30.8 x 27.9 cm.); 9 x 7 in. (22.9 x 17.8 cm.)
Painted in 2007
Set of two
London, Retroarts, September 2007
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Coming from a conservative Pathan family in Peshawar, Ayesha Durrani confronts female stereotypes through the use of the dressmaker's mannequin as a symbol of the anonymous, faceless woman. Patterns, prints and deconstructed garments also take on personalities, and finely detailed prints of cabbage roses evoke domestic comfort and feminine tasks. But the roses are also targets, threatened by an unseen outside force, one that wants women to remain cloistered in the world of dressmaking patterns and mindless activity. Female mannequins face the dangers of losing their identities, and face the challenges of having to live up to social expectations, of having to remain the same 'ideal' proportions - 36"-26"-36". She uses the 'dummy' to represent the female body politic, mapped, clothed, bound in silken red cords.

Being a woman is a unique experience, a sweet and sour mix of intense feelings, volatile emotions and ultimate sacrifices. This is a time of great confusion, when the past and present are at a crossroads. Women in particular are struggling to redefine themselves as the precedents set by our mothers aren't useful anymore in this modern world and day. Cultural stereotypes and our social do's and don'ts stare at us. To top it all we have the western definition of a modern woman to contend with. What is a woman to be then? Is she the satti-savitri of the sub-continent who bears everything without uttering a word of protest or is she the western icon of feminism, burning her bra and scorning domesticity? There are dress and moral codes and religious edicts for women but none for men. There is also an unrealistic level of perfection demanded of women by society, as she is expected to fit in the mould and be the same at all times beautiful, sweet, loving, caring, homely etc, without any personality or character of their own. (Artist statement)