Bride and Groom, at Institute of Contemporary Art, Maine College of Art, Portland ME
May 10-8 June 2019
BRIDE AND GROOM 2019-2020
Couples painted portraits are constructed after the censored weddings photos from the1980s in Asira, north of Nablus, Palestine. In a site-specific exhibition in Asira, the oil portraits navigate social dynamics to show the portrayed women and men in an art exhibition. The work aims at dismissing the censorship from the women's faces while demanding access for this rural community culture to be part of the broader historical and representational systems.
Inass Yassin builds oil portrait paintings of couples from Asira as ideals in to the portrait history.
By constructing the pictures of women and men as painted portraits, the work interacts with the social dynamics that rules women’s pictures circulation while contributing to the broader field of portraiture as hybrid representational system. The Bride and Groom wedding portraits are made not only to intervene in local cultural dynamics, but also as empowering apparati that represent Asira's couples as ideals in the history of portraiture, despite their marginality in the broader representational system.
In negotiating with the couples, Bride and Groom investigates the censorship that altered the visual narrative of the 1980s weddings in Asira, Palestine. By applying different kinds of censorship to photo albums, the visual narrative of the weddings as rich social and aesthetic experiences have been masked. Portraits in Bride and Groom depict the 1980s wedding photos with the intention to take the censorship back.
Left: Bride and Groom. Ahmad & Muna 1986, Masked, 30x30, Oil on Wood Panel. 2019.
Right: Bride and Groom. Ahmad & Muna 1986, Unmasked, 30x30, Oil on Wood Panel. 2019.
Left: Bride and Groom. Ana'm & Saleh, Masked, 24x18 inch, Oil on Canvas. 2019.
Right: Bride and Groom. Ana'm & Saleh, Unmasked, 24x18 inch, Oil on Canvas. 2019.
Bride and Groom. Munira & Ahmad 1986, Unmasked, 30x30, Oil on Wood Panel. 2019.
Bride and Groom, Ahmad and Muna 2018, Trophy & Sword, Oil on Wood Panel, 30x30 inch, 2019.
“ Martyrs are rewarded by the side of God. To the family of Moa’yeh Jarrara’, Hamas”
Bride and Groom. The Servants of Merciful, 10x5 inch. Oil on Wood Panel, 2019
“And the servants of the Merciful are those who walk upon earth tenderly.” Qoran, Al Furqan 25:63, calligraphy source: Saher Ka'bi
Inass Yassin, Bride and Groom, Red Bride, 48x48x1 inches, Oil on Wood Panel, 2019
Inass Yassin: Statement
Bride and Groom
Some of the most vibrant moments that I remember in my village Asira during the 1980s were of the colors and rich rituals before, during and after the weddings. Lovers’ stories that were whispered among adults turned into wedding seasons. When the date was set, families and neighbors would gather every night to sing in the yards a week before the wedding day. There were many colorful rituals full of fabrics, rugs, colored paper, decoration, flowers, fruits, gold, sweets, gifts and a Doumbek (Middle-Eastern Hand Drum) that generated the excitement in the hearts of the little ones among us. We ran from one house to another to collect whatever decorations the neighbor house might have. At some point, we would wonder and argue who would be lucky enough to join the bridal entourage at the beauty salon in the city and after that, get the chance to be in the group photo that the wedding group would take at Studio Cairo in Nablus. Yet most of us did not end up going, and we were asked to stay home to watch the “louge,” the decorated small theater where the bride and groom would sit so the party could start, until the entourage would return from the salon. This is just one small memory of how social life in Asira used to look, sound and feel through the 1980s and not any more.
Since the beginning of the first Intifada in December 1987, more conservative attitudes grew out of complex local and regional politics, which decade after decade have shifted social realities; consequently, people became reserved about their wedding photos and sometimes they masked the woman’s face. My personal history is tied to Asira where I was born and raised, observing secular and modern attitudes that stemmed from the city of Nablus. To witness this shift to a more conservative culture made me passionate about unfolding the politics and aesthetics of such a shift.
As a studio artist, I develop my work, which is always relevant to my personal experience, based on research and collecting histories, including my own. I gathered wedding photos dated from the 1980s in the same friends’ houses where I witnessed those weddings in Asira. Looking at the photos, combined with consistent work in the tradition of portrait painting, I’m creating well-crafted, painted portraits that change those vernacular photos into oil painting works. In the process of making Bride and Groom, I negotiate with the portrayed couples who give me access to their personal photos. The purpose of the conversation is to get permission to show their painted portraits without any censorship on the women’s faces.
The process of making the work demands the negotiation with the people in Asira about the 1980s, as a turning point, its implication on social norms and women's photos production and circulation. By completing the oil painting portraits and exhibiting them in Asira's Museum and the Public Library which were restored in the historic center by Riwaq, the work will be completed as a project. The Bride and Groom wedding portraits are made not only to intervene in local cultural dynamics, but also as empowering apparati that represent Asira's couples as ideals in the history of portraiture, despite their marginality in the broader representational system.