legacy russell

Reflections on "Odalisque"

Lalla Essaydi takes a contemporary spin on an age-old art historical trope. Her work provides some insight about the artist’s personal perspectives regarding Arab female identity within modern culture. Other artists throughout history have played with similar notions of “othering”. While the history of the body of the odalisque itself is politically and sexually charged and cause for its being identified as an “other” in itself, artists throughout history have manipulated the social and sexual power of the odalisque figure by changing her surroundings and appearance. In Essaydi’s Odalisque, the overlying text asserts, surrounds, and overwhelms the identity of the reclining figure, a body that otherwise would not necessarily align itself with a political or social perspective.

Check out Essaydi’s work at Basel:


Ferdinand Roybet, Odalisque (La Sultane), Date Unknown

Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, La Grande Odalisque, 1814

Mickalene Thomas, A Little Taste Outside of Love, 2007

— Legacy Russell of CONTACT


Part 2 Bradley McCallum turns the camera on his own gallery, interviewing gallery owner Nordine Zidoun about his support of political artists and artists of color in Paris.