PHYLLIS ODESSEY

defying conventions

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The Muslim
copyright Peter Mauss

I do not think about the sensation of denim against my skin.  A Muslim woman (I imagine) does not question the feeling of the Hijab touching her skin.  It’s natural, unconscious and instinctive.  Is the quality of the fabric irrelevant to the wearer?  silk, cotton or polyester, does it matter?  Does your perspective of the world change by looking through a slit in a piece of fabric?

These are not the concerns of Jessica Sofia Mitrani.  Her video and exhibition of 11 headpieces ,  (Headpieces for Peace), at FIAF Gallery, transform faceless mannequins into works of art.  Mitrani’s take on the headpiece is funny, fashionable and political.

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The Turban
copyright Peter Mauss

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On the screen: The Orthodox Jew
Video and installation
copyright Peter Mauss

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Video
Introducing all the dressed mannequins on bicycles
copyright Peter Mauss

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The Stewardess on the screen
Video and installation
copyright Peter Mauss

Her previous work played with ideas about fashion.  Headpieces for Peace deals with something dangerous and risqué.  Jew, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Homeless: Mitrani is using our ideas about conventional headpieces associated with certain religions to turns notions of separation and identity on their head. The headpieces were commissioned by the fashion collective threeASFOUR for a show in Israel in 2011.  In Mitrani’s video, the mannequin heads become full bodies.  They move, talk… sometimes sing and are identified with subtitles  as representatives of religions and a few professions.

The 3-dimenstional headpieces on headless mannequins in the gallery are not identified.  I laughed as I walked around the gallery.  What is intriguing about Mitran’s work is the inescapable way it makes us think about the way we view ourselves and others.  And maybe it has something to do with peace.

Jessica Sofia Mitrani
Headpieces for Peace

FIAF Gallery, 22 East 60 St., NYC
Feb. 27-March 22, 2014

 

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