November 12, 2012

Maimouna Guerresi: Architechure of Faces

Vogue India fashion editorial

Before I discovered the world of fashion blogs, my relationship with fashion magazines was admittedly quite different: I initially bought fashion magazines by the dozen although I now ruefully admit that there were very few trends that I channeled or could channel and rarely purchased products suggested by them. Similarly, while I very much enjoyed looking at the fashion editorials, I could never quite appreciate how it would translate into every-day wearability for well...ordinary mortals such as me;) I increasingly perceived fashion as an elitist space when located between pages of these magazines, admission only granted if you had primed yourself about the brands or designers or personalities...rather than savoring the simple, unadulterated joy of putting an outfit together. For me, the moot point was about having fun with your clothes -  fashion is not synonymous with possessing 'It' bag or slavish allegiance to catwalks or being too self-conscious about it. It's about enjoying the art of costuming yourself, performing your personality through the props of your clothing, accessories, and make-up. Once I discovered fashion blogs, which were more individual, quirky, and inspirational, the magazine stack on my bedside table became considerably smaller or instead dismembered and used for scrapbooking or making collages (never underestimate the power of collaging when it comes to destressing!)

Having ranted and now contradicting myself said all that, though, Verve is one magazine that I have been following for many years now; one of the things that I most appreciate about it is that it's an entirely home-grown Indian magazine brand, rather than international magazine franchises tailoring themselves to Indian markets, such as Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, and Vogue, to name a few. This is not to say that the latter are doing a bad job (I particularly liked Marie Claire in its earlier years) but I have always been a champion of local endeavors and an entirely indigenous so go Verve! Verve has always been a monthly reading staple and apart from enjoying its wonderful writing, it's always been a pleasure to extend and cultivate my personal style sense by discovering new artists, artistes, authors, designers, and creative personalities through its issues.

I spotted the work of Italian artist,  Patrizia Ma├»mouna Guerresi, who works with photography, video, and sculpture, in her exhibition, 'Silent Dialogues' (brought by Tasveer Gallery and Tod's) in Verve's latest issue here:


In the interview, Maimouna describes the influence of Islam and its architecture in her photography and specifically, in 'Silent Dialogues', she says:

" my recent works, I am trying to concentrate on the highest and most exposed part of the body: the head. I cover and crown the head with a series of objects in the shape of hats/minarets which are made by hand in a ritualistic manner – with simple materials and pieces of fabric collected and then composed according to the Sufi Muslim tradition of manually producing their own clothes. The minaret hats are tall and narrow architectural forms that I then photograph. The models in my photographs sometimes hide their faces with a hand gesture, or are blindfolded, or simply have their eyes closed. They seem to detach themselves from the world in order to tune into the divine cosmic spirit."

( Verve, October 2012)

Blue Sangat (Triptych)
This is the sort of photography that makes you immediately stop in your tracks and makes you look look, your contemplations eventually precipitating a more meditative state. I found this confluence of photography, spirituality, and architecture really fascinating - I didn't find the posturing or posing at all stylised or deliberate in the photographs, the images appearing like vignettes from a dream instead. Interestingly enough, the image below is entitled 'Kalindi's Dream':

Kalindi's Dream

However, the more I engaged with these images, a series of curious realisations struck me. Would I choose to hang these images upon the walls of my home? Probably not. Would I choose to visit this exhibition again and again? Yes, I would. Would I change my mind about the former question in a couple of years? Quite possibly. Like our style sensibilities, our art inclinations too are in a state of constant flux and evolution...

If you want to know more about Guerresi's work, here's another interview...


  1. Though I personally believe that my personality is reflected not by what I wear but by what I am made of, my values and my actions, I am constantly in awe of the fashion shows like project runway simply because of the awesome creativity involved and each work whether wearable or not, an example of hard work, imagination and passion.
    I enjoyed Guerresi's work, very surreal, abstract and sensitive.
    Thanks for sharing the info about this incredible artist.


  2. Hi Padmaja,

    I agree about what you mention about the creativity, imagination, and passion invested in the fashion shows; I would probably say that I am now more appreciative of fashion editorials and shoots as works of performance art even...rather figuring how to incorporate the trends in daily life (as I was inclined to do earlier when younger). The fashion blogs take care of the latter!

    Yes, Guerresi's work was a pretty cool find - I look forward to learning more about her!


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