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Under the SkinFeminist Art and Art Histories from the Middle East and North Africa Today$
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Ceren Özpınar and Mary Kelly

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266748

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266748.001.0001

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Indigenous Algerian Women Artists in the French Landscape

Indigenous Algerian Women Artists in the French Landscape

Taos Amrouche and Baya Mahieddine

(p.115) 8 Indigenous Algerian Women Artists in the French Landscape
Under the Skin

Akila Kizzi

British Academy

Exploring the artistic paths of the two Algerian Berberi women artists under French colonisation, this chapter aims to demonstrate how art could be transformed into a powerful expression of anticolonial and feminist thought. Baya Mahieddine (1931–98) distinguished herself in painting while Taos Amrouche (1913–76) was a singer of lyrical Berber songs (chants). In 1947, Surrealist André Breton came across both of their work and fascinated by their authentic artistic style, described them as the ‘beginning of an age of concord and radical break’ with the artistic thought of the era. The social and personal trajectory of the two women gave their art a dimension of the gendered imagination nourished by their ethnic origins. A quest for identity guided their work towards self–understanding, constituting a path to an exploration of the ‘other’. In order to show the impact of their personal experiences on their work, as well as the feminist thinking that emerges along the way, this chapter delves into the social and historical conditions of their artistic practices.

Keywords:   Gender, Art, Algeria, Berbers, Colonisation, Surrealism

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