# 13488

HITTI, Deanna

Artbook Warehid; Artbook Tnan; Artbook Tlerty

$3,300.00 AUD

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[Melbourne : the artist, 2015]. Three volumes, small quarto, bound by the artist in cloth in lettered slipcases, pp. [70]; [74]; [70], each page of Arches 250gsm watercolour paper hand printed with cyanotype images by the artist. Unique.

Deanna Hitti is an Australian artist of Lebanese descent whose work explores contemporary themes of cultural identity. Her books comment on how Western society engages with Middle Eastern culture, including the way it is presented. In this trio of unique books printed in the largely forgotten photographic technique of cyanotype, the artist presents images of Arabs, mostly women, as depicted in classical Western painting. From their exotic surroundings (camels, souks and baths) it is clear the subjects hail from the Arab worldt, yet in every instance, they are clearly modelled on European aesthetic ideals. As each page is turned, a broader picture is formed from this series of pale white women masquerading as Oriental “types”.  The natural beauty of Middle Eastern women has been denied through Western art history, and their darker skin and ethnic features supplanted with what the artist believes are more elegant Western models. Through her series of Artbooks (numbered One, Two and Three in Lebanese Arabic), Hitti draws our attention to a tradition of systemic prejudice in visual culture, and in doing so, raises questions of how this delegitimisation of Arabic appearance has translated into broader racial bias. Through a simple concept executed intelligently the artist creates a dialogue surrounding many questions of culture and race.

Artist Statement:

As a child of Lebanese parents who migrated to Australia, I began developing a strong interest in comprehending the diverse cultural traditions among the varied population in this country. I grew up living in two cultures simultaneously. One, a strong Middle Eastern tradition at home, the other collectively experiencing mores of western influences in my social and school environment. This began a visual exploration of Australian Identity. I am interested in the place from which we look and construct our understandings of the world. Much of my practice concerns the nuanced relationships between East and West. The ways in which these relations are figured and practiced, inform our understandings of self and other. I investigate how such vantages are constructed. The historical context of western notions of the east, characterized by notions of exoticism, romanticism and orientalism, act as a kind of lens to investigate contemporary representations of the Middle East.