Beneath the Veil of Sarah Maple’s Muslim Women

It’s amazing how the female body can incite both pleasure/desire/love AND pain/repulsion/hate.

The work of multimedia artist Sarah Maple, a 23-year-old London native of Kenyan and British heritage has recently been the subject of attacks and much controversy. Her paintings on display at the Salon Gallery in West London have invited angry, anonymous phone calls as well as physical damage to the gallery.

As a female who was raised Muslim in a bi-cultural household, Maple consistently addresses issues of identity in her work. She still considers herself a practicing Muslim and has “upset the Islamic world before. An exhibition by her earlier this year showed Muslim women in provocative poses, including one suggestively sucking on a banana. She won the Saatchi Prize last year for her self-portraits, some of which showed her in a headscarf smoking a cigarette [shown here].”

Maple defends her work by stating that it’s “really personal, about my background with my father being British and my mother who is a Muslim and how I felt growing up. I was exploring the question of fusing those two together and whether it could be done.”

There’s certainly no reason to inflict property damage over art in a country that protects an individual’s right to freedom of expression, but is Maple just being controversial for the sake of publicity?

Growing up bi-cultural myself, I know there are conflicted feelings that stir within – all of which are great catalysts for making art. Regardless, expressing oneself is always a political statement and it seems Maple’s timing couldn’t be better given the current state of Muslim-Western relations.

PHOTO: ‘Fighting Fire With Fire No.2’ Copyright Sarah Maple

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