The West and the Other


Almost exactly a year after September 11, El País and El Mundo reflected on cover the scandal of the Cibeles catwalk: the designer David Delfín had presented models with hanging ropes, penitent crosses and executioner hoods; well, the reprehensible part was that they evoked Muslim burkas. A few days earlier, half-naked brides had walked the Gaudí runway arousing less controversy than the refusal of Bush’s niece to present clothes of Arab inspiration. What sensitive spot does the Islamic touch? We are accustomed to seeing fashion inspired by Nazi or anti-terrorist squad uniforms as well as catwalks used for peace propaganda. What odd orientalism causes only the Muslim to be offensive? Is only the westernized sophistication of the wife of Kuwait’s ambassador acceptable in Washington? The photographs of Shadi Ghadirian, in their combination of traditional clothing and global objects such as the cassette player or the Pepsi can, laconically express the conflict. Between the erotic fantasy of the harem which evokes the belle mauresque of the Algerian postcard and the drama of misery of the Afghan women of Salgado, the still, absent bodies of Madrid’s 11-M open a window to the abyss of our relation with the other...[+]

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